Private Fears in Public Places

Not rated yet!
Alain Resnais
2 h 00 min
Release Date
22 November 2006
Drama, Romance
In Paris, six people all look for love, despite typically having their romantic aspirations dashed at every turn.
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VJ Morton6
Right Wing Film Geek

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  • Toronto – capsules – Day 6

    Toronto – capsules – Day 6

    THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY [Wedding Daze] (Michael Ian Black, USA, 2)

    Crass Stupidity, Part I. I understand that the guidebook for a film festival needs to make every film sound appetizing, so I know better than to blame the Toronto Festival’s writers if a movie turns out to be bad. But there still is an implicit moral contract of a certain amount of truth-in-advertising. I knew this was a commercial comedy going in. I was not prepared for how utterly crass and juvenile THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY was — pace these explicit words of Noah Cowan: “Black’s timing and rhythm is unerringly precise. He takes a sophisticated, adult approach to situations that might otherwise yield cheap laughs.” THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY has a yarmulke-wearing character who designs such toys as “Jew-nicorns” (get it) and “Jew-la hoops” in the shape of the Star of David (get it … “Jew-la” … rhymes with “hula”). THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY has a scene in which a father talks to his newly-engaged son about marriage and what he needs to know about the facts of life. But now Dad can pass down to Son his favorite cock ring, for when he needs extra endurance (it did not help that the son is played by Jason Biggs, who starred in a great but identical-in-premise scene in AMERICAN PIE opposite “father” Eugene Levy). THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY has a scene in which a newly-engaged couple on a bus put their ears up against a woman’s bulging belly. This is the exchange close as I can recall: “I feel it kicking … I can hear a heartbeat … When is the baby due? … I’m not pregnant.” Yes, that’s the sophisticated, adult approach that doesn’t go far cheap laughs. Now, my complaint is not that I did not laugh and I found THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY unbearably crass and nihilistic (though I did … and I could rant all day about this film’s worldview and understanding of love). What I find funny is not Cowan’s or TIFF’s responsibility. Nor is it my point that I never enjoy cheap laughs and/or the turning off of adult sophistication — I still rather like PORKY’S, 25 years later. But there is noway, nohow, no two opinions on whether PLEASURE’s approach to humor is “cheap” or “sophisticated,” and thus the festival’s description is a lie. Noway otherwise. Nohow.

    COEURS [Private Fears in Public Places] (Alain Resnais, France, 9)

    This film may be profitting by the dogs surrounding it, but I rather doubt it. Even the people who don’t embrace COEURS as full-on-great like I do — like “Lee Walker,” Michael Sicinski (pan down to the 14th) and Theo acknowledge that Resnais’ direction and Eric Gauthier’s cinematography are nothing short of flawless and there is much to like in this movie, even if they don’t think it quite comes together, as I do. It’s a very English film, with a strong resemblance to BRIEF ENCOUNTER — covering a lot of the same emotional ground, within the same reserved emotional register and a similar “life goes on as we endure unhappily” ending. Stylewise, COEURS is simply an unimpeachable treat — loading up on the unnaturally dazzling and color-saturated images, but with light schemes like the fluorescent light tubes at bars, the glass-with-Macs look at an office, etc., which give that dazzling look a reality.

    As for content, I’m not ready to make the “Alain Resnais has found religion” speech (though I have some notes for a rough draft), but there’s no doubt that mortality casts its shadow over everything in this film by this 84-year-old Master. COUERS is filled with snow … all the fades between scenes are of fades to falling snow rather than the usual black (with IS used to great contrasting effect to mark the divisions among acts). It’s an image of winter, a memento mori, and an annual reminder that everything in this world ends, and not always on the terms we’d like. There is a scene between Charlotte and Lionel (brilliantly played by Sabine Azema and Pierre Arditi) in which the two discuss religion and Hell, which suddenly blinks from a familiar interior set to a snow-bound one. Charlotte is a rare figure in contemporary movies — a conventionally religious woman, a Catholic, who is never made a mockery of or the object of satire therein. She has a past, which is used to some comic effect, but … trying to vague … her sin doesn’t work as planned and it’s clearly shown as a one-off. But in this gentle snowbound exchange on the existence of Hell, she plainly has the upper hand as COEURS presents it. It’s a lovely scene but the one where I welled up the most was one in which Lionel described to Charlotte why he’s taking care of this comic tyrant of an old father. It’s unostentatious, dutiful and quietly moving in a way that middle-class middlebrow tragedy. Charlotte says at another point that “God blesses us with trials,” and neither COUERS nor the Toronto audience took it as a laugh line.

    I obviously did not find NOT ON THE LIPS to be off-puttingly stylized to the point of aggravation or alienation. But some did, and you can rest easy on that front (you might not like COEURS obviously, but *that* should not be a problem). There’s no mugging, no fourth-wall breaking, no rhyming couplets or songs, though there’s some very stylized lighting and Resnais keeps the seven principal characters within about a half-dozen settings, and within what-I-take-to-be Alan Ayckbourne’s structure. And I see I’ve written a lot about this film without mentioning the brilliant performance by Lambert Wilson, who goes from depressed to jaunty without changing a thing or overdoing it; the way the film does a Hong Song-soo by recapitulating romantic relationships (admittedly among an ensemble) from one act to the next; or the way the three videotapes Charlotte loans to Thierry (Andre Dussolier — another brilliant performance) change both in meaning and in content, for her, for him and his girlfriend. There’s just that much to love.

    OUTSOURCED (John Jeffcoat, USA, 2)

    Crass Stupidity, Part II. Despite its title, this movie just uses the phenomenon of shipping service jobs abroad as an excuse to get The Innocent Abroad for a culture-clash romantic comedy, of a very rote pedigree. But Jeffcoat is not Mark Twain, though. We get the driver assuring the American arriving in India, to train his call-service office’s replacements, that “our town is very clean.” Cut to man peeing against the wall. Ho ho ho. The hero’s name is “Todd,” but the Indians call him “Mr. Toad” (there’s a lot more in this vein. Apu on THE SIMPSONS speaks better English than most of these Indians, thankyouvirrymuch). We get jokes about having to rent the Kama Sutra Suite at the hotel, misunderstandings over what hand to use to eat versus to wipe your ass (I saw another movie with that same joke earlier today), and attempts to explain the differences between rubbers, erasers and condoms. Yuk yuk yuk. And it wouldn’t be a movie about India without a failed attempt to get beef or The Innocent Abroad wondering why there is a cow wandering about someplace incongruous. If any of this description sounds funny to you, by all means rush out and see OUTSOURCED. There is one scene that works, in which the romantic leads, Josh Hamilton (not a bad match for Ron Livingston in OFFICE SPACE) and Ayesha Dharker (best remembered by me for the great Tamil film THE TERRORIST) are on a ferry trip. They recite each’s stereotypes of the other in the other’s accents. Dharker’s American English is near-perfect and Hamilton’s Indian English is at least broad enough and self-aware to be funny. They’re an attractive couple, and the scene works because it crackles with wit and spontaneity rather than 100 bad standup routines.

    STILL LIFE (Jia Zhang-ke, China, 3)

    I capped off a wildly uneven day with this film, which was hastily-added for two days after its surprising win at Venice, where it took the festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion. STILL LIFE has a scene where a rotating fan starts to move from right to left, but the fan blades don’t start to turn for a couple of seconds. Those couple of seconds sum up this snoozefest — lots of panning, but feeling nothing because the engine is dead. Some friends were convinced there were some video/color-correction issues. But obviously the film had arresting images of the effects of China’s plan to dam up the Yangtze River, flooding large areas in the resulting artificial lakes. Thus requiring a lot of demolition workers, the milieu through which the principal “character” moves in a quest to find his lost family from long ago (METAPHOR ALERT!!!!). And I enjoyed some of the images of buildings being demolished, and Jia’s framing of one demolition through the ripped hole in another building’s wall. Plus the sheer wtf-ness of a building suddenly blasting off into space. In other words, Jia has made a movie that would be really interesting if it weren’t boring as ass. To quote Mike D’Angelo apropos another film: “there are no human beings in [this] movie” (actually, there is one: the young man who tries to act like Chow Yun-fat. He disappears from the movie in its only moment of emotional heft). Everyone else mopes through this movie like a brain-damaged zombie on Ritalin. Double-dose. It’s as if Jia thinks that landscapes can create character. They cannot. And after a while, his attempts to substitute landscapes for things like incisive dialogue and psychology — both absent from these depressive undead/lumps of dead air — gets irritating. Impressive though it was, the dialogue when the central couple finally meet and discuss a divorce is so thumpingly banal that the (admittedly interesting in concept) way that the background changes as the camera tracks/pans around them didn’t impress me. It just aggravated me. At least, it was better than the top-prize winner at Cannes. But not as good as Berlin (TC).

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    (Review Source)
  • My Best of the Year “Skandies” ballot
    (”Private Fears in Public Places” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    My Best of the Year “Skandies” ballot

    And here is what I DID vote for, with some blathering after each category. Remember, 100 points to distribute to exactly 10 films, performances, scripts, etc.; minimum of 5, maximum of 30. (Also available here; the whole 2007 Skandies site here).

    Film (and Top 10)
    20 No Country for Old Men
    17 Hot Fuzz
    10 Atonement
    10 Private Fears in Public Places
    10 Into Great Silence
    8 There Will Be Blood
    7 Grindhouse
    7 The Lives of Others
    6 Gone Baby Gone
    5 Joshua

    The top 2 were the only films I saw all year to which eventually gave a 10 grade, and I saw all the top 8 at least twice … hence the big points gap between #2 and #3.

    I’d like to think this list at least displays a very catholic taste, at the populist end of the film-snob spectrum — 7 films in English and 3 foreign (though one of the three has very little dialog, and I wouldn’t have been unhappy with none). Two of the films (#2 and #7) that have pretty much nothing “meaningful” to do with anything except having a great time, though I should add that I think all these films, with the exception of #5 and maybe #4, I’d recommend without hesitation to any intelligent adult.

    Lead male
    15 Simon Pegg, Hot Fuzz
    15 Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
    14 Sam Rockwell, Joshua
    12 Josh Brolin, No Country for Old Men
    9 Jens Albinus, the Boss of It All
    9 Ulrich Muhe, the Lives of Others
    7 Casey Affleck, Gone Baby Gone
    7 Will Smith, I Am Legend
    7 Danny Boon, My Best Friend
    5 Don Cheadle, Talk to Me

    It might seem perverse to have the most widely-praised performance in eons in my second slot (though I wound up giving the same number of points). But comedy is much harder than tragedy to do well, a fact to which even the actor-heavy Academy is tone-deaf. In this movie, along with SHAUN OF THE DEAD, Pegg moves past Leslie Nielsen as the movies’ greatest (recent) parodic actor, managing to keeping a straight face while following with absolute conviction all the conventions of the genre being lampooned. And Pegg does so without the benefit, which Nielsen had, of playing a character who is a complete moron. Pegg’s characters are a bit unawares and self-absorbed, sure … but basically a believable person.

    If Day-Lewis hadn’t been around, Rockwell would have lived the year’s most virtuoso performance, spanning a character arc that you hardly recognize is so sweeping until you realize how different he has become at the end, without ever seeming to (DDL is great of course, but you very definitely SEE him acting). And sometimes, as with the bottom two, an actor can create a great performance just from his sheer personality and presence.

    Lead female
    22 Nicole Kidman, Margot at the Wedding
    14 Laura Linney, the Savages
    12 Ellen Page, Juno
    10 Keira Knightley, Atonement
    9 Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
    8 Tang Wei, Lust, Caution
    8 Tammy Blanchard, Bella
    7 Kate Dickie, Red Road
    5 Chen Shiang-chyi, the Wayward Cloud
    5 Jodie Foster, the Brave One

    What did Nicole ever see in Tom? The talent gap between the two is of Wham!-like proportions. Kidman hasn’t done her career any favors in recent years, choosing to work with great directors like von Trier and Kubrick, on risky projects like FUR and BIRTH, and some of her attempts at money-spinners have fallen horribly flat — BEWITCHED, THE GOLDEN COMPASS). We filmgoers are the richer for it. She eases into Baumbach’s unselfconscious post-analytic style like a female Chris Eigemann, convincingly resisting Big Actor’s Moments because everything is always in her control. Plus, she climbs a tree.

    This category is the cause of my two greatest omissions. Vera Farmiga should have been on this list for JOSHUA, but I just plum flat-out forgot about her brilliant portrayal of a post-partum victim when drawing up the shortlists. And I didn’t see BLACK BOOK until earlier this week, which featured a deserved Skandie-winning performance from Carice van Houten, who would placed definitely in my Top 5 had I seen the film before deadline.

    Supporting male
    17 Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
    15 Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
    13 Lambert Wilson, Private Fears in Public Places
    10 Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
    9 Kurt Russell, Grindhouse
    9 Terrence Howard, The Brave One
    8 Peter O’Toole, Ratatouille
    8 Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
    6 Mark Ruffalo, Zodiac
    5 Ving Rhames, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

    Ditto what I said about actor, where the most obvious choice and easy Skandie winner wound up in my second slot. Bardem is great, no question. But Holbrook did something very specific that very few actors have ever done, and that’s turn me around on a movie (I probably should have at least put Catherine Keener on my short list for WILD too) that I was mostly hating until he came along. He represents old-style authenticity, trying to warn off while meeting halfway new-style Authenticity, which had things all its own way to that point; hence my hatred. I understand that some of that is the script’s arc, and some of it his iconography and associations (though that’s a legitimate part of acting — use of who one is). But it’s also how Holbrook simply breathes and embodies the wisdom of the ages, how his voice is knowing, how the emotions coming through at just the right moments.

    Two things to note on this category, about things I do self-consciously every year, to offset tendencies that lead to certain things that can too easily get overlooked.

    (1) I try deliberately, though not always successfully, to reward voice performances, whether in animated movies and voiceovers. On the former front, I’ve given points to Larry the Cable Guy and Ellen Degeneres (in part no doubt because the greatest problem standup comics like these two have when they try to act — infelicity with body language — is not a problem) and to Robert Downey Jr. On the latter, I’ve rewarded John Hurt for his voiceover in DOGVILLE and probably should have done so from Andre Dussolier for AMELIE back in 2001. This year, Peter O’Toole profited, with his fruity role as critic Anton Ego getting “animation” points.

    (2) I make a point of always giving at least some points to elements in films that I overall didn’t much care for overall. I didn’t like how my first year of voting (1998 … now at my Skandie history page … thanks, Mike, for retrieving it) had a ballot so heavily weighted toward a few films. Every year since, I’ve deliberately “spread the wealth,” with a particular effort (an affirmative action, one might call it) to find performances in lesser films. This year, the clear awesomeness of Ving Rhames and Philip Seymour Hoffman stirred both their mediocre films to life whenever they were on the screen

    Supporting female
    20 Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
    17 Sabine Azema, Private Fears in Public Places
    15 Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement
    9 Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
    9 Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
    9 Seong Hyeon-a, Time
    6 Kelly McDonald, No Country for Old Men
    5 Anna Kendrick, Rocket Science
    5 Amy Ryan, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
    5 Kelli Garner, Lars and the Real Girl

    My points to Seong Hyeon-a is the only time I think I’ve ever voted for an uncredited actor — I was sufficiently unsure that I asked Mike if that was OK. She may have had the year’s most difficult role, playing a character already having been played by a different actress in the first part of the movie. The central plot point in TIME (which is very good BTW, an Honorable Mention for the year) is the inverse of Kim Novak in VERTIGO — a woman has plastic surgery to make new again her tempestuous relationship with her boyfriend; Seong plays the woman post-surgery, meaning she has to create a different-yet-same character. She sometimes fumbles and I can see how her stylized playing could be offputting (I have no idea how it sounds in Korean).

    Others: If Amy Ryan can’t play both slutty and concerned mom convincingly, without coming across as a complete nutter, GONE BABY GONE is gone. Kelly McDonald and Vanessa Redgrave really only have one scene each, but they both knock them out of the park, as the respective movie’s moral fulcrum. And Anna Kendrick was a Proustian moment for me, all the high-school girls who were good in debate were just. like. that. (getting debate “spread” delivery right is no mean feat).

    18 Coen brothers, No Country for Old Men
    14 Alain Resnais, Private Fears in Public Places
    12 Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse
    10 “Joe,” Syndromes and a Century
    10 Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
    8 Jafar Panahi, Offside
    8 Edgar Wright, Hot Fuzz
    7 Tsai Ming-liang, the Wayward Cloud
    7 David Fincher, Zodiac
    6 Kim Ki-duk, Time

    I tend to use this category and the succeeding “Script” category as a vehicle to award points to films that just miss the Top 10 — Panahi, Tsai, Kim here and Baumbach, Von Trier and Canyon in the next category. But there was no other choice really possible at #1 … it’s been years since I’ve seen direction so lean, so self-assured, so me-assuring, so perfect in every way — the only reason this didn’t get more points was that everything else in the Top 10 was so strong. Resnais (again) made a masterpiece out of a half-forgotten play; Wright directs for camera-only comedy, rather than just rely on “sketch value”; Tsai is at his most Tsainess ever (until he miscalculates and just goes too far — literally — at the end); Tarantino at his most Tarantinian ever (and the end actually IS a great capper)

    20 Christopher Hampton, Atonement
    15 Noah Baumbach, Margot at the Wedding
    15 Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, Hot Fuzz
    10 Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, Gone Baby Gone
    10 Diablo Canyon, Juno
    8 Florian Henckel von Dommersmarck, the Lives of Others
    7 Coen brothers, No Country for Old Men
    5 Brad Bird, Ratatouille
    5 Arnaud Cathrine and Julie Gavras, Blame It on Fidel
    5 Lars von Trier, the Boss of It All

    Yeah … that British literary bias, but Hampton really did do a brilliant job, worthy of the important playwright he himself is, paring down to the essence of what looked like an unfilmable novel and getting the blueprint for how a very literary conceit, post-modern discourses, work as drama (here is Tasha Robinson with a brilliant piece at the Onion AV Club on the film and the novel). Diablo Canyon was fine on the quotable lines department, but she just got outdone by Noah Baumbach who apparently can exude hyperliterate passive-aggressive oneupmanship by the yard and shrink-wrap it to order.

    Let me make a shout-out here for BLAME IT ON FIDEL, which is like a French arthouse version of Absolutely Fabulous — 60s radical parents and a young girl, Anna, who rebels too — by wanting a normal apolitical childhood. The scene where she unwittingly explains the inherent natural basis of property to some anarchists was priceless. About a willful child in sort of the same way ATONEMENT is, but under much different circumstances and she doesn’t take it anywhere near what Briony does. It isn’t a great movie (7 grade) because it never really goes for the jugular like I wanted to against the sort of people whom it’s taking the piss out of — professional revolutionaries/”activists,” though since it’s to some extent about Gavras’s own childhood, some diplomacy is humanly understandable. But it takes more than enough piss for me to enjoy.


    These are the scenes in question for 8 of my 10 picks, the ones I’ve able to find. I gave 10 points to all 10 scenes, so the order doesn’t mean anything. It’s just alphabetical by the films’ titles.

    10 At the Father’s house, Bella (couldn’t find … in fact, I can’t find ANY clips for Bella)

    10 Ship’s Mast, Grindhouse (courtesy of Mike)

    10 “Miss Baltimore Crab,” Hairspray (although doomed by this to have no shot at being more than the second-greatest Michelle Pfeiffer musical number)

    10 City of Women, Half Moon (this clip has only Spanish subtitles, but they’re basic setup, saying thousands of women have been exiled to this town, and they play in one voice)

    10 Han River attack, The Host (courtesy of Mike … dubbing isn’t too distracting)

    10 The body won’t stay dead, Lust, Caution (couldn’t find)

    10 Coin toss with “Friendo”, No Country for Old Men (courtesy of Mike)

    10 Trip to the ladies room, Offside (courtesy of Mike … no subtitles, but he sets up the scene here)

    10 “What did the sun say to Erich Honecker?” the Lives of Others

    10 Umbrella dance, the Wayward Cloud (nobody else voted for this one??? … how)

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    I blame SonnyIn "Ben Shapiro"

    2011 -- Best Old FilmsWith 4 comments

    February 16, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


    1. Sigh … I should’ve voted for “Umbrella Dance”. Trouble is, 27 months after I watched it, I barely remember any of CLOUD’s musical numbers. (R2 DVD *finally* came out last week.)

      Just wondering: have you read “Atonement”? In other words, is Hampton’s 20-pointer for adaptation, or just general excellence?

      Comment by Theo | February 21, 2008 | Reply

    2. I’s 9 parts excellence to 1 part knowledge of the difficulty that I know the novel holds without having read it. My specific knowledge of ATONEMENT the novel comes second-hand, especially from the Tasha Robinson piece I linked to (which frankly doesn’t make MacEwen’s novel sound that appealing to me and quotes enough of it for me to make that judgement). I also know, from other post-modern “multiple levels of discourse/multiple-narrator novels,” the general problems this type of novel poses. I apologize if I came across as falsely claiming to have read ATONEMENT at the time of voting.

      Comment by vjmorton | February 21, 2008 | Reply

    3. […] VJ Morton has one of the most interesting¬†Best of 2007 lists I’ve¬†seen, and a thoughtful trip through the¬†acting categories too. Bonus! Actual scenes from great films!¬† […]

      Pingback by The Browser: Dobson and the election. Another Top Ten List. O’Connor. | March 13, 2013 | Reply

    4. […] VJ Morton has one of the most interesting¬†Best of 2007 lists I’ve¬†seen, and a thoughtful trip through the¬†acting categories too. Bonus! Actual scenes from great films!¬† […]

      Pingback by The Browser: Dobson and the election. Another Top Ten List. O'Connor. | Looking Closer with Jeffrey Overstreet | August 16, 2015 | Reply

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  • More self-absorption
    (”Private Fears in Public Places” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    More self-absorption

    Since I’m holding off revealing my Skandie ballot, I’ll reveal what I almost voted for but didn’t. My method is to put go through the list of all the films I’ve seen and write down everything that strikes me as memorable or a possibility. And then shuck back to 10. These are the leaves that got shucked. These were what did NOT make my ballot. And yes … I only could think of 12 lead female and 13 supporting female performances.¹

    Lead male
    Song Kang-ho, The Host
    Is that the funny Helper Guy from SECRET SUNSHINE?

    Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl
    Is that the Jewish Nazi from THE BELIEVER?

    Russell Crowe, American Gangster
    Went with him over Denzel cause his character had a bit more of an arc

    Brad Pitt, Jesse James
    He breathes his own legendness

    James McAvoy, Atonement
    Didn’t think he had it in him; actually least convincing when trying for Big Emotions

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
    Doesn’t know how to give a bad performance as a Gen-X everyman

    Chris Cooper, Breach
    Doesn’t overdo the religiosity, despite its obvious centrality in his character’s life. I actually met a couple of Robert Hanssen’s children (unknowingly) at a friend’s party

    Tony Leung, Lust, Caution
    Might have placed if he had run full-speed and dived into cars more often

    Slavoj Zizek, the Pervert’s Guide to Cinema
    Technically a documentary, but his onscreen “performance” is as central to his film as Algore’s was

    Woody Harrelson, the Walker
    Perfect casting helps, as you always get the sense that he’s still the dumb bartender

    Lee Kang-sheng, the Wayward Cloud
    More of a deadpan presence than a “performance,” at least in the dramatic scenes, but that’s what the role calls for

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the Savages
    Ditto above. And this project looked so DEADLY BAD on paper (or trailer, actually)

    Sebastian Koch, Lives of Others
    Turns 180 degrees without an exact “Eureka!” moment

    John C. Reilly, Walk Hard
    Deserved a better script than he got, but has ironic sincerity chops to spare

    Lead female
    Rose McGowan, Grindhouse
    Her legs alone made PLANET TERROR

    Nina Kervel-bey, Blame It on Fidel
    If she’s too precocious, the movie falls apart

    Supporting male
    Teodor Corban, 1208 East of Bucharest
    Like a lower-key, less overtly demonstrative version of Steve Coogan’s “Alan Partridge”

    Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, The Boss of It All
    I didn’t think an Icelander would ever work for Lars again

    Jeff Goldblum, Fay Grim
    Made Hartley’s bizarro-dialogue seem completely natural

    Josh Brolin, Grindhouse
    Everyman face makes the snarling ridiculousness of his zombie-movie performance

    Jim Broadbent, Hot Fuzz
    One great thing about British actors is that the greatest are not ashamed to do comedy

    Nick Frost, Hot Fuzz
    Every man’s idea of a best buddy — comic version

    Jason Bateman, Juno
    Every man’s idea of a best buddy — not-so-comic version

    Andre Dussolier, Private Fears in Public Places
    Look at how the contrast between his mouth and his eyes makes the tape-watching scene

    Chewitel Ejiofor, Talk to Me
    Yawn … another brilliant low-key, grounded performance from the best actor with a name you can’t pronounce

    Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood
    Actually able to share the screen with Daniel Day-Lewis (is that a spoiler for my Best Actor ballot?)

    Robert Downey Jr., Zodiac
    How he is able to get all these roles about people driven to drink and drugs by obsession is absolutely beyond me.

    Supporting female
    Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
    How often and in how many contexts can she play the White Witch (not that I’m complaining)

    Juliette Binoche, Breaking and Entering
    The proverbial actress so great she can stir you by reading the telephone book (which this script pretty much lets her prove)

    Kristin Scott Thomas, the Walker
    Playing “regal diva” opposite Lauren Bacall is hardly easy, but she has a contemporary quality too

    Philip Groening, Into Great Silence
    I’ll probably have to do penance for this one since his film was in the Top 5, required the patience of Job to get made and got no other points

    George Ratliff, Joshua
    I’ll probably have to do penance for this one since his film was in the Top 10, and I actually know him personally from our days at Texas (did the YMCA dance with his girlfriend at a mutual friend’s wedding)

    Vincent Parronaud and Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
    I’ll probably have to do penance for this one since this film was in the Honorable Mentions, required the patience of Job to get made and wound up with no points at all from me

    Joe Wright, Atonement
    Best moments as a director, in this film at least, are the ones he hands over to others; plus, the library scene

    Edgar Wright, Grindhouse
    I thought about giving him points for two films but then something told me … DON’T

    Francis Lawrence, I Am Legend
    Handles the summer super-spectacle genre with surprising restraint

    Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
    Would have found a place for him if he hadn’t cast his nonsinger wife in a role that has no place for a nonsinger to hide

    Lars von Trier, the Boss of It All
    It takes a great script to make a very good movie with Auto-Mat-O-Vision as director

    Sean Penn, Into the Wild
    I hated what looked like Catcher-in-the-Rye-wannabe twaddle before I realized the film had been playing me for a fool the whole time

    The Fate of the Coward Robert Ford after the Assassination of Jesse James, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
    I actually DID vote for this scene before Mike told me it was too long and too broad-in-scope to qualify as a scene

    The TV interview, Atonement
    No scene more moved me this year than this one, but I’m not sure it could work even a little if you hadn’t seen what preceded

    Reunited … at last, Gone Baby Gone
    See ATONEMENT scene … it’s a crushing rebuke to do-gooder idealism, but via a scene of banalities in which nothing really happens

    “Nannare/Barso Re Megha,” Guru
    I’ll probably have to do penance for all the impure thoughts (the video is here, and though this reproduction is crap, it is still AR Rahman and Aishwarya)

    Oil!, There Will Be Blood
    Great expressionist spectacle, great impressionistic subjectivity and darkness erupts into the world, in more sense than one

    Anton Ego tries the food, Ratatouille
    A Proustian moment, seen on Bastille Day, a few weeks after eating madeleines for the first time

    Opening terrorist attack, The Kingdom
    What an action scene should be — taut, quick, choreographed and brutal without ever seeming to be those things

    Hotel shootout (the old-style hotel with corridors; not the motel with adjoining rooms), No Country for Old Men
    The competition from this film was pretty stiff

    A midnight water run, No Country for Old Men
    The competition from this film was pretty stiff

    Interview at Greenhill Manor, the Savages
    Funny test, plus PSH’s best moment in the film, telling off appearances-over-all sister later

    “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” Zodiac
    Saw this again last week, and I realized it’s the only moment of real white-knuckle suspense in the movie

    Bart goes skateboarding, the Simpsons
    Showing the 8-year-old’s willie was a mistake though

    “All These Things That I’ve Done,” Southland Tales
    Boosted by being a moderately enjoyable scene in the middle of a train wreck of a movie

    Driving through the village, Syndromes and a Century
    Five minutes of unbroken pure Being, in which nothing else really happens

    Let us pray, Breach
    Stuck in Washington traffic and prayer combined — what more could I want
    ¹ There were a half-dozen films — THE WAYWARD CLOUD, LUST CAUTION, THE SAVAGES, ATONEMENT, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL — where I had a man and woman from the same film on my short list, but only the woman (women in one case) made the final cut. The competition was just so much less for the women, and I can think of only a few important female roles that I missed, either in terms of not seeing the film or forgetting about the actress until after I had submitted my ballot.

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    February 6, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


    1. “Ego tries the food,” “hotel shootout” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man” all made my final list.

      Comment by Noel | February 6, 2008 | Reply

    2. I contend that showing Bart’s doodle was a brilliant masterstroke that elevated the scene into greatness — I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a bigger explosion of laughter in a theater.

      Comment by Donna | February 6, 2008 | Reply

    3. I’m with Donna on the issue of Nancy Cartwright’s penis.

      Comment by Adam Villani | February 7, 2008 | Reply

    4. […] was the scene from THE SIMPSONS MOVIE of Bart skateboarding nude (on a dare from Homer, natch). But I said there that “Showing the 8-year-old’s willie was a mistake though,” which has drawn two dissents […]

      Pingback by Nancy Cartwright’s penis « Rightwing Film Geek | February 7, 2008 | Reply

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    (Review Source)
  • It’s Toronto Time
    (”Private Fears in Public Places” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    It’s Toronto Time

    I make my annual pilgrimage to the Toronto Film Festival starting tomorrow, and one person at work already has asked me specifically whether I’ll be seeing the Bush assassination movie.

    I had DOAP on my initial, broken-down-by-days short-list, and I have the scheduling notes to prove it. There are some plot resemblances to THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, so using an assassination (attempt) on a current named political figure as a fictional premise doesn’t per se trouble me (but more on that anon). And the style/premise — a muck-raking “documentary” set in the future tells the real story of what happened in the Bush Assassination — resembles the great ZELIG, which I think is one of Woody Allen’s two or three best films. In a different world, this is a movie I would, in principle, be interested in.

    Unless Noah Cowan’s description is completely bollixed (which would not be unprecedented … in fact in some cases, I’m downright hoping for it), I can’t imagine wanting to see this film at this festival. Most unconvincing line in Cowan’s description — “The film is never a personal attack on Bush; Range simply seeks to explore the potential consequences that might follow from the President’s policies and actions.” Reminds me of George Will’s description of how a negative-campaigning candidate defends his ads: “I am not being negative, I am merely alerting the public to my loathesome opponent’s squalid voting record.”

    I won’t relate the specific examples until Bilge puts up my Worst Moviegoing Experiences on the Nerve Screengrab blog, but I have had enough “lone Celtic supporter at the Rangers end” moments to know how art-house and film-festival audiences will consume DOAP which will inevitably color my reaction. At Toronto, “Fidelista” is a term of praise (just read this and weep) and Bush Derangement Syndrome and Christophobia are normal. First example to pop into my head from this year, go to the listing for AMAZING GRACE and ask yourself how you would know, other than a vague and unspecified reference to “man of the cloth,” whether religion might be involved and (more specifically) how, and what the title might refer to (you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a reference to how hot the chick in the picture is).

    In this time, at that context, DOAP will be consumed as a masturbatory fantasy and I wouldn’t put a round of applause or cheering. Maybe someday, alone, after the film has died its death and nobody remembers how Karl Rove tried to turn Valerie Plame over to Osama bin Laden in exchange for campaign contributions to pay off Katharine Harris (that IS what he did, right?), I’ll see DOAP Not now.

    I dunno why this film hasn’t gotten as much flak. But if DOAP is inherently and a priori distasteful, it’s hard to see why a film called HOW I PLANNED TO KILL TONY BLAIR wouldn’t be. Still, while I’m pretty much past the point of interest in anything the artist/bohemian class thinks it has to say about politics, I will be going to see at least one political doc. THE DIXIE CHICKS: SHUT UP AND SING has the potential to be a HARLAN COUNTY USA (director Barbara Kopple, plus my unfamiliarity with the Chicks’s music, is why I’m interested) or the few minutes of FAHRENHEIT 9/11 that I managed to endure when I finally broke down a few months ago and it was playing on a free channel (Sundance). When I know the personages involved, I try to pay as little attention to the descriptions in the Festival Guidebook, so I’ll approach DIXIE CHICKS with the guarded optimism that is obligatory.

    As for my schedule, this year was one of the worst for not getting my first choices — I must have drawn a bad box. For the couple of days, i.e., opening weekend, I mostly got second-choice films (though mostly pretty good ones) and overall missed more than a half-dozen of my first choices.

    I didn’t get the single to-the-general-public morning screenings of Gala presentations and likely fall awards-bait VOLVER by Almodovar and Inarritu’s BABEL, the former of which I’m more bummed about and will consider going into the rush line to see if I can get a ticket. After all, Almodovar has reportedly managed to get a tolerable performance from Penelope Cruz, acting in Spanish again and who, like Sophia Loren (a previous generation’s favorite Latin sexpot), is much better in her native language.

    Some of the other not-gotten 1st choices, all of which I’m considering rushing:
    ● There is much anger in me when I not getting much ticket to important Kazakhstani cinema. Will start and joining with campaign against racist film making many funs of great country Kazakhstan.
    ● I should have known that the title THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO CINEMA would just be too attractive to too many, even (especially) to those with no knowledge of Slavoj Zizek (apparently playing a Michael Palin-like guide). I hope they choke on the Lacanisms.
    ● Why the heck would a Kore-eda film (HANA) be a big buzz item? I thought NOBODY KNOWS was a masterpiece, but it was not a crowd-please at all. And while it did win a general release, it flopped.
    No Maddin 06. Like with the Kore-eda I hope it’s because a great filmmaker is finally winning an audience, but man, this would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience — seeing a silent film with an orchestra, which includes a sound-effects team, a singer and a narrator. The kind of screening a festival is made for.

    But I can’t complain too hard. Here is my schedule of the films I got ticket for, and it’s a good mix of foreign and English, my favorite auteurs and buzz titles, austere and popcorn, and a few blind stabs in the dark — exactly what a festival is about:

    7 Sept
    02:00pm The Magic Flute (Kenneth Branagh, Britain)
    09:00pm The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany)

    8 Sept
    09:00am 12:08 East of Bucharest (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)

    Dunno why I got both my 1st and 2nd choices for this time … will sort out later

    09:30am The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, Canada)
    11:45am Requiem (Hand-Christian Schmid, Germany)
    03:00pm Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey)
    06:15pm A Grave-Keeper’s Tale (Chitra Palekar, India)
    09:00pm Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show (Ari Sandel, USA)
    midnight The Host (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea)

    9 Sept
    09:15am La Tourneuse de Pages (Denis Dercourt, France)
    noon The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, Britain)
    03:00pm The Fall (Tarsem, Britain/India)
    06:30pm Half Moon (Bahman Ghobadi, Iran)
    09:15pm Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)

    10 Sept
    03:15pm Born and Bred (Pablo Trapero, Argentina)
    06:30pm Offside (Jafar Panahi, Iran)
    08:45pm Cashback (Sean Ellis, Britain)

    11 Sept
    09:30am All The King’s Men (Steve Zaillian, USA)
    noon For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest, USA)
    03:30pm 10 Items or Less (Brad Silberling, USA)
    06:00pm Fay Grim (Hal Hartley, USA)
    09:00pm I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan)

    12 Sept
    09:00am Takva – A Man’s Fear of God (Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey)
    11:45am The Pleasure of Your Company (Michael Ian Black, USA)
    03:00pm Coeurs (Alain Resnais, France)
    05:30pm Outsourced (John Jeffcoat, USA)
    midnight Trapped Ashes (Joe Dante, Ken Russell, Sean Cunningham, Monte Hellman, John Gaeta, USA)

    13 Sept
    09:30am Dixie Chicks – Shut Up and Sing (Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, USA)
    noon Mon Meilleur Ami (Patrice Leconte, France)
    02:30pm Little Children (Todd Field, USA)
    04:45pm Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul aka “Joe,” Thailand)
    09:00pm Grbavica (Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnia)

    14 Sept
    noon Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella, Britain)
    03:00pm The Fountain (Darren Aronovsky, USA)
    06:00pm King and the Clown (Lee Jun-ik, South Korea)
    09:30pm Red Road (Andrea Arnold, Britain)
    midnight Severance (Christopher Smith, Britain)

    15 Sept
    09:45am A Few Days Later (Niki Karimi, Iran)
    12:45pm The Island (Pavel Lounguine, Russia)
    03:00pm Seraphim Falls (David von Ancken, USA)
    09:00pm Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, France)

    16 Sept
    08:45am The Dog Problem (Scott Caan, USA)
    noon The Banquet (Feng Xiaogang, China)
    04:45pm Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog, USA)
    09:00pm Lights in the Dusk (Aki Kaurismaki, Finland)

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    September 4, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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    (Review Source)
  • Toronto – Days 6 and 7 – grades
    (”Private Fears in Public Places” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Toronto – Days 6 and 7 – grades

    The Pleasure of Your Company (Michael Ian Black, USA, 2)
    Coeurs (Alain Resnais, France, 9)
    Outsourced (John Jeffcoat, USA, 2)
    Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke, China, 3)

    The Dixie Chicks – Shut Up and Sing (Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, USA, 6)¹
    Mon Meilleur Ami (Patrice Leconte, France, 8)
    Little Children (Todd Field, USA, 6)
    Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul aka “Joe,” Thailand, 7)
    Grbavica (Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnia, 5)

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    September 13, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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    (Review Source)
  • Top 10 of 2007
    (”Private Fears in Public Places” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    (Review Source)

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