The Counselor (2013; dir. Ridley Scott) — For a while, all I knew about this collaboration between the director of Blade Runner and the writer of Blood Meridian was that Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir declared it one of the worst movies ever made. Bad press like that curtailed its theatrical run last fall, so I didn’t get to see what all the fuss was about. Now the pendulum is swinging back; in a recent review of the bonus-crazy Counselor Blu-ray, Film Comment’s Amy Taubin called it “the most underrated and indeed ridiculously maligned film of 2013.” If you don’t mind elliptical storytelling or long, slow, deep, soft, wet disquisitions about the evil that men do that last three days, then you’ll probably agree. Michael Fassbender is the luckless, nameless criminal dilettante of the film’s title, and Javier Bardem is the bewildered playboy who helps Fassbender make his one big, bad decision. Cameron Diaz’s all-knowing leopard woman is supposed to be the film’s central metaphor, but for me, Brad Pitt’s smug, paunchy middleman performs that function just as well. He sort of knows what he’s doing is wrong, but even when he has to face facts, he can’t believe it’s really happening to him. The hangman’s delight with which Pitt recognizes the seriousness of his and Fassbender’s predicament is one of the many reasons why this is the most frightening movie I’ve seen in a long time. Grade: A-
The state is ponying up $5.5 million just for the one production. City, CVB, and private incentives fill out the overall package, which hits $8 million.
The florist does not believe women will find him attractive. “I am not a beautiful man,” he says, and he’s right. His eyes are a little out of alignment, he has a big schnozz, and his mouth doesn’t quite close all the way. His friend, a former bookstore owner, disagrees. Although the florist may be getting old, he is trim and confident, and there’s a precision and care in his movements that certain women might find irresistible. He works with his hands for a living, and it shows; as the former bookstore owner says, “You’re disgusting in a very positive way.” So why not call up this woman who’s looking for a ménage-a-trois and see what happens? And why not make a little extra money into the bargain?
John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo is the warmest and sexiest of the recent string of romances starring middle-aged actors whose most glamorous days might be behind them. His film takes place at the beginning of autumn in New York, and the city’s golden glow envelops and dignifies everyone wishing to trade Manhattan’s gifts of privacy and solitude for some provisional human contact.
In 1984, Prince had just come off of a smash hit record two years earlier: the double album 1999, which spawned four top 10 Billboard hits and sold 4 million copies. The success convinced Warner Brothers to produce a film to go with his next release. Director Albert Magnoli, a Prince associate, was tapped to direct the film, which would be a music video-inspired musical to capitalize on the craze that MTV had spawned two years before. The first hint America got of the Prince juggernaut that would dominate the airwaves for the rest of the decade was the revolutionary “When Doves Cry”, released on May 9, 1984, with a video that featured chunks of montage taken straight from the film famously intercut with shots of Prince naked in a bathtub.
In Under the Skin, Scarlett Johansson plays a hawk, and dozens of average men of Glasgow, Scotland play squirrels. Johansson is an unnamed alien going about her job, which is to use her sex appeal to lure men to a secluded place where they are … well, we’re not really sure what happens to them, but it ain’t good. The process that the — not “victims”, “prey” — are subjected to is even more terrifying because of its incomprehensibility.
I'm a regular guest on MemphiSport Live on Sports56/87.7 FM, appearing on the last Saturday of the month to discuss movies and TV and whatnot.
Once a year is the best hour of radio in Memphis, if I may be so bold: The MSL Oscar Handicapping Special. This last weekend was that glorious celebration, during which Kevin and I and co-host Marcus Hunter talked movies, Erik Jambor from Indie Memphis talked about the festival and upcoming events, ABC News anchor Joy Lambert talked about Hollywood for the House, and Memphis Oscar-winner, Frayser Boy, gave out some great trivia from the annals of Oscar history.
Everybody else: The Oscars nominations will be announced tomorrow morning! (!!!!!)
Back in August I predicted what the Best Picture category would look like.
2014 Best Picture Oscar Nominee Predictions 2.0 (In order of certainty):
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Saving Mr. Banks
Inside Llewyn Davis
Dallas Buyers Club
Other three I can't pull the trigger on:
August: Osage County
Note that the Academy could nominate between 5 and 10 films for Best Picture.
The nominations will be announced Thursday, January 16, at 7:38 a.m. on ABC.
UPDATE: The Academy only went nine deep in the category. (Which is stupid; since the awards are just another marketing tool for movies, maximize the exposure you can provide.)
I missed on Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks, and Philomena made it in when I thought it wouldn't. I had it ranked 11th.
The Oscars air Sunday, March 2nd, on ABC. (Squee!)