At the LA Times, Robert W. Welkos notes that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has updated its Oscar rules again:
In one change, entries in the best foreign-language category will no longer have to be in an official language of the country submitting the film. So long as the dominant language is not English, the academy noted, a picture from any country may be in any language or combination of languages.
This is a direct response to Saverio Costanzo‘s "Private," last year’s Italian Oscar submission, which was disqualified because it’s primarily in Arabic, but for most people the change will call to mind Michael Haneke‘s superb "CachÃ©," which Austria was unable to submit for Oscar consideration because the film is in French.
We’d always imagined that Johnny Depp‘s declaration that his Jack Sparrow was modeled after Keith Richards was a claim he manufactured on the spur of the moment to entertain himself on the publicity circuit, but see what’s come of it: Richards has actually signed on to play Sparrow’s father in the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" film (via AP).
Via BBC, Chinese censors have banned breakout Korean hit "The King and the Clown" due to the film’s gay subtext and sexually explicit language. Nothing unexpected (homosexuality is considered a mental disorder in China) but interesting in that, as Filmbrain points out in his recent review of the film, "it calls to mind ‘Farewell My Concubine,’ a film ‘King and the Clown’ definitely owes a debt to."
It’s tempting to say that every age gets the "Beowulf" it deserves, or one that suggests what’s most on people’s minds: the kooky sci-fi version; the brooding, existential one; the sensitive anti-epic. What the original audience for "Beowulf" had on its mind was terror. They listened to the poem in circumstances much like the ones it describes, huddled together around a fire and fretting about what lurked outside in the darkness, and they knew something that some of the modern adapters may have lost sight of: that in the right circumstances it’s extremely pleasant to be scared out of your wits.
John Horn at the LA Times writes about how the filmmakers behind festival favorite "QuinceaÃ±era" worked for years in the porn industry first. (We had to rewrite that sentence three or four times to remove unintentional double entendres.) Fascinatingly, one of the films is a gay porn spoof of "The Ring" entitled "The Hole": "Before you’re gay…you see the hole." Horn outlines how it’s no longer a career kiss of death to have worked on porn:
"There is this presumption that people who work in porn somehow aren’t of very high quality," [Wash] Westmoreland says. "That if you’re an editor in porn, you’re not a good editor. That if you’re a porn cinematographer, you’re not any good. But nothing could be further from the truth."
In the Japan Times, Mark Schilling reviews Masahiro Kobayashi‘s 2005 Cannes contender "Bashing," "a sparely told, emotionally walloping film suggested by the real-life experiences of a Japanese woman who was on a self-styled volunteer mission in Iraq when she was captured by insurgents, held hostage and finally released unharmed. Back home, she was widely criticized by the media and public for going to Iraq in the first place, as well as for causing trouble for her rescuers and embarrassment for the nation."
Akash Arora at The Australian argues that Indian films have been unfairly and broadly categorized as prim affairs:
It’s widely, and wrongly, believed in the West that Indian movies are no-skin, no-sex affairs. And those who have brought Bollywood films to the West, instead of challenging and changing that image, have consistently fueled it.
"It’s what I call cultural pigeonholing, sticking to cliches to please the crowds," says Sydney-based Indian film-maker Anupam Sharma. "The West has a set image of India, which may not be entirely in sync with reality. Yet most forms of Indian arts and culture that are seen in the West seem to feed this (not so accurate) image rather than challenge it."
Last year, for instance, "Bend it Like Beckham" director Gurinder Chadha brought "Bride & Prejudice" to Australia with all the Bollywood bells and whistles. She was widely quoted as saying: "There’s no kissing in Indian movies."
"Which is all crap because Indian films had kissing scenes even in the silent-movie era," says Sharma, who is also the head of the Australia-India Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment Council.
At That Little Round-Headed Boy, there’s a splendid post about "The 25 tunes I discovered at the movies":
We’ve all had this happen: We’re watching a movie and this transcendent song comes spilling out, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s part of the texture of the film or just accompanying the closing credits. We love the song. We must have the song. The song will always bring back a sensory flashback to the movie, even if it’s the only thing we can remember about the movie.
Finally, on the occasion of its tenth birthday, Ain’t It Cool News asks its contributors "Imagine you’re trying to explain America to someone. What ten films would you show them, and why?"
+ Oscar rules altered for foreign films (LA Times)
+ Keith Richards to be in ‘Pirates’ movie (AP)
+ Park Chan-wook Asked to Sit on Venice Jury (Chosun Ilbo)
+ China bans film over gay themes (BBC)
+ Tears of a Clown (Like Anna Karina’s Sweater)
+ Politically Aware ‘Beowulfs’ Miss an Ancient Delight: Terror (NY Times)
+ The XXX factor (LA Times)
+ Campaign of hate (Japan Times)
+ No sex please, we’re Indian (The Australian)
+ Lights, camera, songs! The 25 tunes I discovered at the movies (That Little Round-Headed Boy)
+ AICNâ€™s 10th Anniversary Article! AICN Picks The Greatest Films About America!! (AICN)