Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Woody Allen's Salute to Barcelona at Cannes

In the city of Barcelona, actresses Rebecca Hall, Patricia Clarkson and Scarlett Johansson experience the creations of its famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, as they stand on the roof of his Casa Milá. His famous church, the Familia Segrada (Sacred Family), is far right.

Woody Allen's latest movie, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, filmed in the Catalonian city of Barcelona, Spain, is considered by some to be Allen's homage to that city, as MANHATTAN (1979) was to New York City.

Penelope It is also a homage to Spanish actress Penélope Cruz, nominated for an Oscar® in the best actress category for her role in Pedro Almodóvar's VOLVER (Return, 2006). Allen says the moment he saw her in that movie, he decided he had to make a movie with her. Yep. The guy still has it!

BARCELONA stars Javier Bardém with Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, and Patricia Clarkson. This could be one of Allen's best sex fantasies yet. I get excited just thinking about seeing the movie, as well as scenes from my beloved city, Barcelona, which I am not now able to visit as much as I would like.

The movie premieres at the Cannes International Film Festival next month, screening out of competition. The scheduled U.S. opening is 29 August. For more about Cannes, see link on right sidebar to my Film Festivals Page. For much more about Bardém, click the link for my Foreign Movies Page.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ready for the 81st Academy Awards®?

Ready or not, here come the 81st Annual Academy Awards®. Well, the information about the annual ritual for 2009, anyway. Academy President Sid Ganis announced today that the awards will be presented Sunday, 22 February 2009. The ceremony will again take place at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.

Key dates currently scheduled are:

Monday, December 1, 2008 - Official Screen Credits forms due;
Friday, December 26, 2008 - Nominations ballots mailed;
Monday, January 12, 2009 - Nominations polls close 5 p.m. PT;
Thursday, January 22, 2009 - Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT, Samuel Goldwyn Theater;
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - Final ballots mailed;
Monday, February 2, 2009 - Nominees Luncheon;
Saturday, February 7, 2009 - Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards presentation;
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - Final polls close 5 p.m. PT;
Sunday, February 22, 2009 - 81st Annual Academy Awards presentation.

NOTE the change of the day for the nominations announcement, which had to be changed from Tuesday to Thursday because 20 February is the Presidential Inauguration in 2009.

There will soon be a link on the right sidebar for the 81st Academy Awards Schedule.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Coming: Three Film Festivals of Note

Three well-known U.S. regional international film festivals are opening this month. They open the 23rd or 24th. These festivals are unique because each is offering the screening of a classic highly-honored silent movie with live accompaniment.

One accompaniment group is The Alloy Orchestra, a three-man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources.

The other accompaniment will be provided by Black Francis, a.k.a., Frank Black, who was born Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV in Boston. He has composed scores for other German silent classics. He also performs and tours with his Pixies.

Ebertfest (Urbana-Champaign, IL)

25th - The Alloy Orchestra will accompany the silent movie UNDERWORLD (USA), Austrian Josef von Sternberg's 1927 silent classic that won an Oscar for writer Ben Hecht (story). Then Sunday, they play for the silent classic PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at RiverRun's closing in North Carolina.

Roger Ebert said of this group, "They are the best in the world in accompanying silent films."

RiverRun (Winston-Salem, NC)

27th - Festival Closing Night: The Silent Movie Classic PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with The Alloy Orchestra, Sunday, 9:00 p.m. EDT. This 1925 movie directed by Rupert Julian, stars Lon Chaney. If they have the original print or an excellent copy thereof, it will contain the first two-color scene in a motion picture, that of the Masque Ball.

San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

25th - Special events include a special screening of the silent German Expressionist classic, THE GOLEM (Der Golem: wie er in die Welt kam, (Germany 1930, 82 min), Pauls Wegener, Carl Boese. Live musical accompaniment by Black Francis.

Other notable festivals opening this month: Hot Docs (Toronto), and Tribeca (NYC). For extensive information about these five festivals click the link on the sidebar of this blog for my Film Festivals Page, or the title of this blog post. Also there, you will find direct links to the official Web sites, the musical groups mentioned here, plus miscellaneous info links. I also include little tidbits about musical and film history, now and then.

Next up in May - Cannes (14-25 May). They are just now getting it together. Some hints: Sean Penn, Indiana Jones, Cate Blanchett and MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS. Follow it on my Festivals Page.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New Movies About Islam: Con and Pro

Two new movies about Islam have been released so far this year. The con is short (17 minutes), and is described as a hate diatribe against Islam. The other is a feature love story (88 minutes), definitely pro Islam.

The short is by the Dutch politician, anti-immigration activist, filmmaker Geert Wilders. It is called FITNA, an Arabic word often translated as "strife," and tomatoes are flying at it from every direction.

The feature, VERSES OF LOVE, is from an Indonesian Muslim filmmaker, Hanung Bramantyo. It has received a rousing reception in Indonesia, which has almost a 100 percent Muslim population, and a "ho-hum" from the rest of the world. It should be extremely well received at the next Arab Emirates' film festivals in Dubai or Abu Dhabi this year, should it screen in either. Read about the Dubai and Abu Dhabi festivals last year on my 2007 Film Festivals Page.

By far, FITNA, has received most of the attention. It was posted on the Internet by YouTube, and others, but has since been removed because of general outrage due to its visuals and rhetoric.

Because both of these are mainly religious propaganda meaning, "a one-sided argument often untrue," I have posted about each in more detail on my Universal Mind Warp blog. Click the Title on each post for a major link.

I did see the images in FITNA, but the dialog was in Dutch, and I haven't seen anything of the other one, so I cannot judge either at the moment.