Monday, December 1, 2014

"Wild" Unleashed/"Imitation Game" Starts Strong/"Mr. Turner's" Mike Leigh/Critics' View/Couple of Notes

Good Monday All.  Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was terrific.  The New York Film Critics are supposed to announce their choices for the best in 2014 film making.  I'll have a bonus post about that later this morning...


Jean Marc Vallee's "Wild" is unleashed on Friday.  The film premiered at Telluride.  The film tells the true story of Cheryl Strayed who walked the Pacific Coast Trail as an act of revival and redemption.  The film stars (and was partially produced by) Reese Witherspoon who has received considerable awards buzz as has co-star Laura Dern.

I have linked interviews/profiles with Vallee, Witherspoon and Strayed below from The LA Times, Mother Jones and Newsday:


The word from this weekend is that Morten Tyldum's "The Imitation Game" starring Benedict Cumberbatch opened very strongly in limited NY/LA release.  The film based on the life of Alan Turing was surprisingly snubbed by The Independent Spirit awards earlier last week but if early box office and Academy buzz is any looks to still be a strong awards contender.

Here's Variety's report of the strong box office opening in only four theaters in New York and L.A. from the weekend:

The New York Times Arts Beat posted this video of director Morten Tyldum narrating a segment of the film:


Writer/director Mike Leigh talks process and other items in this discussion about "Mr. Turner" with Anne Thompson/Thompson on Hollywood:


Critic's have started announcing their ten best lists and such as we enter the last month of 2014.  Awards Daily's Sasha Stone takes a look at what the critics' collectives tell us:

Sight and Sound has posted it's "Ten" Best list.  It's here and below the link is the list of TFF #41 an #40 films that made their cut.

"Under the Skin" (TFF #40)
"Ida" (TFF #40)
"Mr. Turner"
"Two Days, One Night"
"The Look of Silence"
"The Wind Rises" (TFF #40)


I saw "Birdman" a second time in Albuquerque (there for the Rio Grande Art Show).  It's s till great...genius...masterpiece.  Likely the #1 film when I put together my year end list.  Go see it if you didn't see it in T-ride or someplace else later...or see it again.

I also saw Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash" and maybe I suffered from too much anticipation or perhaps I can't leave my "teacher" lenses aside (believe me, I've "tough loved" my share of kids)  The film has been a critical darling since Sundance (look at Sasha's story above about the critical response so far).  My objections:  It's over heated, has zero subtlety and the ending...which a lot of people love...fundamentally unbelievable.  Now, I'm a huge J.K. Simmons fan and there's a lot of reason to believe he's going to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this and to give him his due, he does a terrific job of committing to the character but in the end, even J.K. can't make me buy the way it all plays out.

Bottom line is that "Whiplash" is a B- film.  That's my two cents.

More on Thursday including an updated FAC for Best Picture, Director Lead Actress and Actor.

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