Feb 29, 2012

Werner Herzog on the 2012 Academy Awards

The day after the Oscars, I interviewed Werner Herzog for The Daily Telegraph about his death row documentary, Into the Abyss. The acclaimed German filmmaker had some words of praise for the ceremony which I thought worth posting in full; they came midway through a discussion of his reputed eccentricity.

"I read it all the time — that I am some sort of maverick filmmaker. No. I am not a maverick. All the rest of Hollywood or the film industry worldwide — these are the mavericks. I am dead centre. Everyone else is eccentric. I occupy the centre, the centre of our time, the centre of our cultural climate, the centre of vision, the centre of storytelling in every single aspect, I know I am dead centre. When you look at the academy awards last night you know that this is rather eccentric. And then you look at me.”

"You may have a point.”

“Not 'may'. Do Have. In capital letters. I DO HAVE a point. It’s the pageantry of the industry, the self-celebration of the industry. It's always better if it gets really eccentric. The more eccentric it gets the better the academy awards are. Yesterday wasn’t so bad. The previous year was kind of boring. This year was really good — much, much better. If the presenter doesn't sing or do some hoofing*, some tap dancing, it's off-target somehow. Hugh Jackman singing and dancing, that was a good one. To see Cirque du Soleil flying around representing the collective fantasy of show-business — Cirque du Soleil has nothing to do with movies, and yet it was exactly right. And the tearful speeches. If anything it wasn’t tearful enough. But there is something very enjoyable about it. Its not a coincidence that the entire world watches it — I say 'entire' in quotes. I see the importance in every day culture, before the Oscars even start: who is wearing what, who is in company with whom. It's just good stuff.”

"It reminds me of an old quote of yours: 'Movies come from the country fair and circus, not from art and academicism'."

“Yes, the country fair and circus. Its an integral part of the cultural climate of the movies. Yesterday night's was quite a good show. I've seen some nagging reports in the German press that it was vulgar, the singing presenter and so on, and I thought that was the good part of it."

* To get the full sardonic effect, your best Werner Herzog impression will be required for the word "hoofing", substituting a soft 'k' for the 'g'—"hoofink"

Feb 28, 2012


May 11
Dark Shadows
Warner Bros.

The Dictator

May 18
Sony Classics

May 25
Moonrise Kingdom
Focus Features
Amour Michael Haneke
June 8

June 15
Rock of Ages
Warner Bros.

June 22
IFC Films

June 29
Magic Mike
No distrib.
Take This Waltz

July 6
Universal Pictures

The Amazing Spider-Man, Marc  
July 20
The Dark Knight Rises
Warner Bros.

August 3
The Bourne Legacy
Universal Pictures

August 10
Great Hope Springs

Sony Pictures

August 31
The Wettest County
Weinstein Co.

Sept 7
Anna Karenina, Joe Wright  
Sept. 14
Warner Bros.

October 19
Not Fade Away, David Chase
Gangster Squad
Warner Bros.

To Rome With Love
October 26
Rust And Bone, Jacques Audiard
November 9

November 21
47 Ronin, Carl Rinsch
Warner Bros.

December 7
Hyde Park on Hudson, Roger Michell

December 19
Zero Dark Thirty

December 21
Life of Pi 
Fox 2000

This is Forty, Judd Apatow
December 25
Django Unchained
Weinstein Co.

The Great Gatsby
Warner Bros.

No release date yet:

The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson (TBA)
On the Road, Walter Salles (TBA)
Untitled Terrence Malick Film (TBA)
Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn (TBA)
The Place Beyond the Pines, Derek Cianfrance (TBA)
Fork in the Road, Alexander Payne (TBA)
Nailed, David O. Russell (TBA)
Gotti: Three Generations, Levinson (TBA)
My Wild Life, Noyce, Kidman (Universal, TBA)
Take This Waltz — Rogen, Williams (Magnolia, TBA)

Feb 27, 2012

REVIEW: The 2012 Oscar telecast

Something about the coy, deep-suction wonder with which Meryl Streep greets the attention being paid her makes it almost impossible to actually pay her that attention without feeling beside the point somehow, like a crack-dealer watching their customer get high. Maybe in 30 years time Emma Stone will be exactly the same way but last night, her bright, vivacious presentation was easily the highlight of the show — a vivid flash of adorable flesh tones. But it's weird how the Academy's fierce determination to win the all-important youth demographic translates — by some infernal game of chinese whispers — into a droopy, rheumatic telecast hosted by an over-rouged Billy Crystal, whose face is so round and lifted this days it looks like one of those optical illusions that would register as a human face equally well hung upside-down. Count in wins for Christopher Plummer (82), Meryl Streep (her third), two cinematic tributes to the silent era, a fabulously long 'In Memoriam' section, and it was hard to shake off the odor of camphor and mothballs clinging to the whole enterprise. You felt like getting up and walking around in the ad breaks just to check your circulation, or that no-one had died. Imagine what would happen if the producers ever decided to 'go old.' Thank God for Stone, Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen, the win for A Separation, for the editing Oscar given to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, the clips from Bridesmaids, for Dujardin's sacre-bleu freak-out, for Plummer's poise, Gwyneth's dress, Angelina's leg, and the electrical pulses that seemed to shoot between Colin Firth and any of the female nominees he happened to be addressing, but particularly Michelle Williams. I half expected her to bat her eyes and reveal the words "I-love-you" stenciled on her eyelids in Chanel mascara.

Feb 26, 2012

Oscar Predictions 2012: The Artist

Best Film: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin
Best Actress: Viola Davis
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
Best Screenplay: Woody Allen
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Animated Feature: Rango
Art Direction: Hugo
Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Costume Design: The Artist
Film Editing: The Artist
Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Original Score: The Artist
Original Song: Man or Muppet
Documentary Feature: Undefeated
Documentary Short: Saving Face
Animated Short Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Live Action Short: The Shore
Sound Editing: Hugo
Sound Mixing: Hugo
Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Best Make-Up: The Iron Lady

Feb 20, 2012

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Marilynne Robinson

"Modern discourse is not really comfortable with the word "soul," and in my opinion the loss of the word has been disabling, not only to religion but to literature and political thought and to every humane pursuit. In contemporary religious circles, souls, if they are mentioned at all, tend to be spoken of as saved or lost, having answered some set of divine expectations or failed to answer them, having arrived at some crucial realization or failed to arrive at it. So the soul, the masterpiece of creation, is more or less reduced to a token signifying cosmic acceptance or rejection, having little or nothing to do with that miraculous thing, the felt experience of life, except insofar as life offers distractions or temptations." — Marilynne Robinson

Feb 19, 2012

I'd almost forgotten this note – of fond-fraternal foxy-paternal Costner-patented chivalry. But now it all comes back to me — high fibre, good Scotch, Oswald acting alone, the small of a woman's back, long, slow, deep, soft kisses, etc etc