1. ”Birdman wins big at Gotham Independent Film Awards.” Other winners include Boyhood, Still Alice, and Dear White People.
“Birdman was the big winner at the Gotham Awards on Monday, as Alejandro G. Iñarritu’s black comedy scored the top prize of best feature and star Michael Keaton took the actor honor. ’I did this film for all of us that in our age are still wandering and questioning what…life is about, what’s the point of all this,’ Inarritu told the audience as he accepted the prize. Birdman, which centers on a washed-up actor who played a superhero (Keaton) as he tries to mount a Broadway show, beat out favorite Boyhood in what observers said entering the evening was a closely contested race. The Richard Linklater coming-of-age pic, which was also nominated for best feature, did take the audience award at the Gothams, after winning top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle earlier Monday.”
2. “What Movies to See This December.” Richard Brody benefits from the privileges and pleasure seeing movies in advance, and so do we.
“It’s the story of a woman (Marion Cotillard) who loses her job in a factory in the wake of a vote by her fellow-employees, who were forced to choose between her employment and their own year-end bonuses. But she gets them to revote, and, in advance of that new ballot, spends a weekend visiting her colleagues to persuade them to vote for her instead. It isn’t only the plot that’s schematic; so is the range of responses from the protagonist’s colleagues. The Dardennes seem nearly uninterested in imagining the confrontations that result; they deliver a range of stereotypes that avoid looking in any detail at modern Belgian lives. Rather, like most of their films, this one is built around a handful of metaphors (I’ve written here about their importance as cinematic symbolists), and the ones in Two Days, One Night—a bottle of pills, a car radio—are among their most powerful. Capitalism is driving workers crazy, and the vestige of cultural solidarity that binds them together is the mass culture of capitalist production. The conundrum is enough to drive them crazy all over again.”
3. “New FDA Proposal: Gay Men Can Give Blood—As Long As They Don’t Have Gay Sex.” The government might replace a lifetime ban barring gay men by asking them to be celibate.
“Some gay rights groups seem willing to accept the yearlong restriction as a reasonable starting point—a positive change that could lay the foundation for a better policy down the road. ’The policies that are in place, the lifetime ban, perpetuates negative stereotypes and stigma,’ says Ryan James Yezak, founder of the National Gay Blood Drive. ’It assumes that all gay and bisexual men are likely to have HIV and therefore must be blanket banned. And that’s just not necessary in this day and age when they have the testing and other countries have moved to deferral time period.’”
4. “Jennifer Tilly Remembers Her Bound Sex Scene.” Speaking with the Vulture’s “Sexpositions” columnist, Jennifer Vineyard, the actress reveals how she and the Wachowskis defied Dino De Laurentiis.
“We were a little bit worried because Dino De Laurentiis—bless him—was a producer, and we were worried that after we finished shooting the scene, they would send it off to Italy and insert some breasts and buttocks shots. The Wachowskis said that was a concern of theirs, too, so they decided to shoot that love scene in one long, continuous shot. They said, ’That way he can’t cut into it without it looking really obvious and intrusive.’ So the day we were supposed to shoot the love scene, it was a closed set. But there were monitors in the hallway, and everybody was clustered around the monitors watching. So the Wachowskis put the camera on a crane, and there were all these elements that they wanted to capture. They wanted to start out on a safe and get the side of my back, and they wanted to pan down to the toes, and they would be yelling through a megaphone, telling us what different parts were onscreen. They would yell, ’Toes!’ and Gina would curl her toes like she was about to come. Then they would say, ’Hand!’ and my hand was on her crotch, and I would kind of move my fingers a little bit. And then they would say, ’Face!’ and it would be on Gina’s face, and Gina would ’come.’ So it was very, very technical, and we did eight takes.”
5. “CPH:DOX 2014. Degrees of the Documentary.” For MUBI, James Lattimer reports from the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.
“Whilst wading through CPH:DOX’s mammoth non-fiction programme, I was oddly reminded of a line from one of the those well-thumbed works on documentary film you’re forced to read in college. In his Introduction to Documentary, one of Bill Nichols’ many attempts to define the slippery term is to say that, ’Documentaries are what the organisations and institutions that produce them make.’ Quite apart from CPH:DOX’s own increasingly active role as a producer, it seems at once entirely appropriate and entirely banal to bring this perfectly circular adage to bear on a festival that carries the D-word in its very name: if a film showing at a documentary film festival is by definition a documentary film, how does it behave as such? Yet all banality aside, using the concept of the ’documentary’ in the capacity of a self-evident reading aid offers as good a way as any of negotiating the sheer wealth of different forms, organising principles and categories laid out by the festival’s programme. Given CPH:DOX’s well-burnished reputation as the go-to location for boundary-crossing, edgy fare, it feels most fitting to apply this documentary yardstick to the many films that inhabit these border regions, even if the sheer variety on display here mean mixed results are inevitable.”
Video of the Day: A rare 90-minute John Cassavetes interview from the mid-’70s on filmmaking and his 1974 film A Woman Under the Influence:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.