The House

Melissa Leo

It was a weekend of awards shows: The King's Speech was king at the Oscars while The Last Airbender was, um, tops at the Razzies and Black Swan prevailed at the Spirit Awards.

Gary Winick, director of Tadpole and, most recently, Letters to Juliet, died last night. He was 49.

James Franco to work with Harmony Korine?

Dave Kehr on the unleashed id of The Cable Guy.

Franco shares his Top 10 with the Criterion Collection

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TAGS: academy awards, anne hathaway, black swan, bob dylan, dave kehr, gary winick, harmony korine, independent spirit awards, j. hoberman, james franco, letters to juliet, matt zoller seitz, razzie awards, suze rotolo, tadpole, the cable guy, the criterion collection, the king's speech, the last airbender


Thomas Harlan's Wundkanal indicates its seriousness through a bevy of distancing techniques: hideous industrial settings, suffocating framing, a washed out palette of blues and blacks, long interrogations that loop back on themselves. These are crucial touches, the first steps the director takes in approaching the mountain of reasons that might have stopped him from making this film. They act as both ritual of purification and a clear signal of what it will not be, flushing away any pretense of entertainment, narrative, explanation, or answers.

Harlan's father was the notorious Veit Harland, director of the repugnant Jud Suss and one of the creative forces behind the Nazi propaganda machine. It's a huge legacy to overcome, and rather than attempt to explain or confront it, Harlan explodes the entire situation in one virtuoso outburst. Wundkanal is a messy, ugly movie, but it's also an outstanding document, one of the few to approach the Holocaust with absolute deference to its enormity.

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TAGS: alfred filbert, film comment selects, jud suss, our nazi, robert kramer, thomas harlan, veit harland, wundkanal

Picture: The King's Speech
Directing: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Actor in a Supporting Role: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Actress in a Supporting Role: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Foreign Language Film: Incendies
Documentary Feature: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3
Documentary Short: Poster Girl
Animated Short: The Gruffalo
Live Action Short: Wish 143
Film Editing: The Social Network
Art Direction: The King's Speech
Cinematography: True Grit
Costume Design: The King's Speech
Makeup: The Wolfman
Score: The King's Speech
Song: "I See the Light," Tangled
Sound Editing: Inception
Sound Mixing: Inception
Visual Effects: Inception

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TAGS: academy awards, black swan, exit through the gift shop, incendies, inception, poster girl, tangled, the fighter, the gruffalo, the king's speech, the social network, the wolf man, toy story 3, true grit, wish 143

The King's Speech

The ascendance of the stuttering king and Oscar's perceived instantaneous regression into the mottled pastures of White Elephant Cinema (how quickly we forget The Reader) has rendered some of our most reliable barometers speechless. Suddenly, the movie no one wanted to pay attention to became the movie all your friends and relatives who see two movies a year have seen and just know is the best picture of the year. What can one say in the face of that? Even dependable crank Armond White, who had been working himself up a pretty good head of anti-Social Network steam leading up to an Ingracious Basterd-worthy final snit as MC of the New York Film Critics Circle awards, has been more or less reticent in the wake of The King's Speech's dozen proofs in support of the theory that dusty linens, not bloody tourniquets and certainly not hackers' grease-stained pizza boxes, are the fabric that holds Oscar together. And why shouldn't he remain mum? There's no one this year to disabuse of the notion that Oscars actually matter.

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TAGS: 127 hours, academy awards, armond white, black swan, harvey weinstein, inception, kings speech, new york film critics circle, the fighter, the kids are all right, the social network, toy story 3, true grit, winters bone

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Leave it to Andrew Lau, the director most famous for co-helming Infernal Affairs, to drown a staid, fool-proof setup for success in grandiose tragedy and pseudo-significance. Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen takes the blind ra-ra nationalism and the star of the recent blockbusting Ip Man movies and produces nothing memorable beyond a few hyper action scenes that are sure to give you a rush of blood to the head. These scenes tease you with the promise of a unique spin on the formula that Ip Man and Once Upon a Time in China before that, and Fists of Fury before even that, originally laid down. Basically: A conservative local hero stands up for his community by leading them in beating up callous and wholly unwelcome foreigners. If anything, Lau's film only proves that that subgenre of wuxia films is here to stay and no amount of uninspired storytelling can kill it.

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TAGS: andrew lau, black mask, donnie yen, film comment selects, fists of fury, ip man, jet li, kohata ryu, legend of the fist the return of chen zhen, once upon a time in china, shut qi, zhang songwen

Tom Hooper

Six. That's the number of times the DGA winner has failed to win the Oscar. Advantage: Tom Hooper. Two thousand and three. That's the last time the DGA winner didn't seize the Oscar, which went to Roman Polanski instead of another Harvey Weinstein-backed newcomer, Rob Marshall. Advantage: David Fincher? Not exactly. Fincher, even though he's never roofee'd a girl in Jack Nicholson's Jacuzzi, doesn't have sentiment on his side. (Note to the chilly auteur: It's okay for the awards process to make you uncomfortable, just ask Danny Boyle, but at least pretend to want to be in its spotlight.) One clear advantage for Fincher was securing the support of the stiff upper lips who make up BAFTA's directors branch, but by how many votes did he best Hooper? More or less than the number of votes Hooper beat Fincher by for the DGA prize? And how many of those Fincher-favoring BAFTA directors will also cast Oscar votes? Enough to null Hooper's advantage once you consider all those TV directors who voted for the DGA (which didn't, by the way, reward Hooper for John Adams) are taken out of the equation? In the end, you don't have to have the mind of John Nash to come up with a formula that factors all of those scenarios, along with the prevailing mood of Oscar's non-director branches (we know how their respective guilds went down), and doesn't end with Hooper taking this in a walk. We know the Oscars have agreed with critics more than usual this past decade, making very respectable choices for Best Picture since Crash won the top prize, but with more than one critic hailing the The King's Speech the best film of the last decade, it really is looking like it's going to be a Ron Howard sort of year.

Will Win: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech

Could Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

Should Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

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TAGS: academy awards, black swan, darren aronofsky, david fincher, david o. russell, ethan coen, joel coen, the fighter, the king's speech, the social network, tom hooper, true grit


For Fandor, Nick Davis and Nathaniel Rogers talk Best Picture.

Eric Hynes celebrates the quiet performances that make loud, Oscar-winning ones possible.

Andrew O'Hehir and Matt Zoller Seitz ponder Oscar's Best Actor race.

The Guardian's Tom Shone wonders who calls the Oscar shots.

A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis answer a few Oscar-related questions from their readers.

There are eight ways the Oscars are going to be radically different this year.

Ricky Gervais wrote a fake script for Anne Hathaway and James Franco.

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TAGS: a.o. scott, academy awards, andrew o'hehir, anne hathaway, eric hynes, fandor, james franco, manohla dargis, matt zoller seitz, nathaniel rogers, nick davis, ricky gervais, salon, slate, the guardian, tom shone

Coming Up In This Column: The Illusionist, No Strings Attached, From Prada to Nada, The Company Men, Mystery Street, Le Amiche, La Dolce Vita, The Write Environment, Downton Abbey, Fairly Legal but first…

Fan Mail: First, I want to thank "Biglil," who wrote in on US#68 to correct some factual errors in Pirate Radio. In today's world I'm all for getting one's facts straight, since there is so little of it going around.

Second, David Ehrenstein got the impression in my comments on The Dilemma in US#69 that I somehow had a beef with The Kids Are All Right. I don't, as my comments in US#54 make clear. My point was that The Dilemma did not handle the mixture of comedy and drama as well as Kids and other films.

Third, in today's bullets can't kill it category, "Samm" insisted in a comment on US#69 they (and I am not sure what "they'" he was talking about) are all Hero's Journey films. Sigh.

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TAGS: downton abbey, fairly legal, from prada to nada, la dolca vita, le amiche, mystery street, no strings attached, the company men, the illusionist, the write environment, understanding screenwriting

[Editor's Note: House Playlist is a series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks. Found something we should hear? Let us know!]

James Blake, "Love What Happened Here." James Blake's well-received debut foregrounds silence and process, repetition and accumulation, but "Love What Happened Here," a non-album cut that premiered on British radio last week, proves that the 22-year-old likes making twitching club tracks just as much as headphone masterpieces. After opening with stabs of brassy synths, "Love What Happened Here" brims over with fidgety, pitch-shifted vocal chirps that culminate in a ringing organ sample that Blake jubilantly cuts apart. The business here makes it a piece with his Bells Sketch EP, hinting that it may have been dusted off to satiate the growing demand for his music. Either way, it's more evidence that everyone had best believe the hype. Ross Scarano

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TAGS: avant gold, gruff rhys, hotel shampoo, house playlist, james blake, love what happened here, ryat, sensations in the dark, super furry animals, the gaze

The Hallway Trilogy

"What would we do without drama?," asks a highly educated city worker (Louis Cancelmi) in the first segment of Adam Rapp's The Hallway Trilogy, an energizing, delightfully anarchic kick in the pants to a rather sleepy theater season—and you wonder if Rapp included such a line so that he was able to answer it himself through this triptych of plays, each seemingly from a slightly different hemisphere in his whirling psyche. Examining a Lower East Side apartment floor through the years 1953, 2003, and eventually 2053, and how social mores and deviant behavior modify their way through the decades, it's likely to become Rapp's crowning achievement, not simply in how beautifully his already-patented vision weaves with his blessedly talented new collaborators, but in how you can see his push-pull feelings of love and discontentment with societal tides of change immersing themselves in the enticingly confining spaces of the Rattlestick, which has been stunningly reconfigured into a large rectangular tenement floor.

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TAGS: adam rapp, beowulf boritt, daniel aukin, danny mastrogiorgio, eric shimelonis, guy boyd, jessica pabst, katherine waterston, logan marshall-green, louis cancelmi, maria dizzia, nick lawson, nursing, paraffin, rattlestick playwrights theater, robert beitzel, rose, sarah lemp, stephen tyrone williams, sue jean kim, the amoralists, the hallwy trilogy, tyler micoleau, william apps

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