MSNBC, lately fond of declaring potential Oscar candidacies, has Erik Lundegaard writing up reasons why Sacha Baron Cohen should get a Best Supporting Actor nod. We’re not talking "Borat," here, we’re talking "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." But on to the unavoidable "Borat" (we hope the moviegoing public likes the film as much as the press), David Edelstein is inspired by the film to write a great feature in New York on "the new wave of squirm comedy":
As someone with an admittedly low tolerance for watching the humiliation of othersâ€”I find it hard to look at the faces of baseball players after theyâ€™ve struck outâ€”Iâ€™m spending more and more time squirming, cringing, averting my eyes, and plugging my ears. Itâ€™s worse, obviously, when real people are getting burnedâ€”although on something like American Idol the contestants at least know what theyâ€™re in for. But even fictional works are becoming harder to endure. In both its British and American incarnations, The Office revolves around the relentless degradation of a cretinous middle manager whoâ€™s desperate to be liked. Its brilliant creator, Ricky Gervais, now plumbs the depths of his (apparent) self-hatred on Extras. Curb Your Enthusiasm requires you to identify with a man who shrinks might say has a narcissistic personality disorder, and whose sense of entitlement has a way of escalating the most casual negotiations of modern society into appalling confrontations. And weâ€™re not talking about one scene per episode. Itâ€™s virtually every scene.
Ah, we are so there with our hands over our eyes, Mr. Edelstein. After giving it some thought, here’s what the film really evoked for us: watching a video about the Milgram experiment in Psych 101 during which, halfway through, people started laughing; about two-thirds of the way through we had to leave for a little bit. We’ve got no tolerance.
At Time Out New York, Melissa Anderson writes about the Museum of the Moving Image’s complete Jacques Rivette retrospective, which will include a two-day screening of his 12-and-a-halfâ€“hour 1971 film "Out 1."
At the LA Times, Rachel Abramowitz interviews Chad Lowe, who’s pushing his feature directorial debut, "Beautiful Ohio": "Although he won an Emmy at 25 for his portrayal of a teen dying of AIDS on the series ‘Life Goes On,’ Lowe was better known as the slightly less handsome younger brother of pretty-boy former Brat Packer Rob Lowe, or later as the husband of two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who infamously forgot to thank him when she won her first statuette." Oof. At LA Weekly, prep for AFI Fest includes A-Y blurbs about the films, critics’ picks, and Scott Foundas‘ musings on the ghost of the festival’s predecessor Filmex, a.k.a. the Los Angeles International Film Exposition, and the current fest’s shortcomings:
Who loses out in this equation is the audience, the sort of intelligent Los Angeles filmgoers AFI Fest purportedly seeks to attract. I am admittedly writing from a position of privilege, having the good fortune, as part of my job, to spend a fair part of the year attending and reporting from film festivals great and small all around the world. In other words, I know whatâ€™s out there, and I know what youâ€™re missing out on. I also know that these are crisis times for the exhibition of foreign and independent films in America, and thus festivals like AFI Fest have grown in their importance, in many cases providing the only opportunity for theatrical showings that many films will ever have.
At the Japan Times, Rob Schwartz has his own programming worries about just-finished Tokyo International Film Festival:
[T]he specter of commercialism at the festival only grows more daunting. Starting next year TIFF will incorporate itself into a larger "International Contents Carnival." This amorphous event is aiming to promote Japanese video games, music, anime and film theoretically to markets abroad. Rather than striving for film of higher quality, the move appears to be pushing TIFF toward easily accessible commercial film that can be (somehow) sold to distributors in the West. This concentration on business was driven home by the Closing Ceremony speech of Akira Amari, Minister of Industry, Trade and Finance, who pompously declared: "I believe Tokyo will be the Mecca for contents in the 21st century."
Ah, the future: commercial and inappropriately plural. Also at the Japan Times, Philip Brasor surveys the fest’s Competition and notes that of the 15 films, "three contained serious drug use, four school bullying, three sub-plots dealt with incest, three dead or dying fathers; three had scenes in which a character killed or threatened another with a knife, and three featured people who slashed their wrists — two on screen." Mark Schilling rounds up the Japanese Eyes section.
And at the Guardian, an utterly strange but also strangely appealing piece from Matthew Hays about director gaydar:
Tim Burton‘s film Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) is sheer camp at its best. The film’s central character is an adult man wearing pancake make-up who is stuck at age nine. Still, it was possible to dismiss the tremor on my film-maker gaydar by attributing Pee-Wee’s quirks to the actor who created and played him, Paul Reubens. But then came Batman (1989), in which an art-deco Gotham City was threatened by the real star of the film, a garish, operatic Joker played by Jack Nicholson (who made references to The Wizard of Oz); and Edward Scissorhands (1990), in which Johnny Depp portrayed an adolescent unable to fit in due to attributes beyond his control. This I read as an obvious queer parable.
Alas, my film-maker gaydar was off again. Burton is a tried-and-true heterosexual, as I would learn when I interviewed him about his 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. I asked Burton if he’d considered introducing any homosexual ape characters into the movie; the thought had never crossed his mind.
+ An award for Sacha Baron Cohen? Darn right (MSNBC)
+ So Funny It Hurts (New York)
+ Ways of seeing (Time Out New York)
+ Picking up the pieces (LA Times)
+ AFI Fest, A to Y (LA Weekly)
+ Criticsâ€™ Picks (LA Weekly)
+ Missing the Ex-Factor (LA Weekly)
+ This lens lacks focus (Japan Times)
+ Theme of dysfunction runs thick (Japan Times)
+ Some ‘eyes’ keen, some crossed (Japan Times)
+ A Hopeful, Rather Than Sensational, Look at a Politician (NY Times)
+ Flying the white, blue and Red flag (London Times)
+ Mad about the boys (Guardian)