1. “Sundance Awards: The Winners List.” Me and Earl and the Dying Girl claimed both the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize and the U.S. dramatic audience award.
“After 10 days of premieres and deals in Park City, the Sundance Film Festival jury handed out honors across a range of categories on Saturday evening. Comedian Tig Notaro presided over the ceremony, which saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl nab both the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize and the U.S. dramatic audience award. ’This movie was about processing loss and, but really to celebrate a beautiful life and a beautiful man, which is my amazing father. So this is to his memory and to celebrate him through humor, so thanks again for this opportunity,’ said Earl director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon upon accepting the grand jury prize. Meanwhile, The Wolfpack, a look at a family of six siblings living in Manhattan, claimed the U.S. grand jury prize for a documentary. Robert Eggers, whose film The Witch was acquired by A24 films shortly after the festival opened, claimed the directing award for U.S. dramatic title.”
2. “A New Level of Refugee Suffering.” Angelina Jolie on the Syrians and Iraqis who can’t go home.
“For many years I have visited camps, and every time, I sit in a tent and hear stories. I try my best to give support. To say something that will show solidarity and give some kind of thoughtful guidance. On this trip I was speechless. What do you say to a mother with tears streaming down her face who says her daughter is in the hands of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and that she wishes she were there, too? Even if she had to be raped and tortured, she says, it would be better than not being with her daughter. What do you say to the 13-year-old girl who describes the warehouses where she and the others lived and would be pulled out, three at a time, to be raped by the men? When her brother found out, he killed himself. How can you speak when a woman your own age looks you in the eye and tells you that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she now lives alone in a tent and has minimal food rations?”
3. “Frank Rich on the National Circus: American Sniper Proves Obama’s Politics Beat Cheney’s.” Also, hate on The Imitation Game instead.
“I’m second to no one in my outrage about the Iraq War, but I would hardly call this film an endorsement of that war; it’s an endorsement of the Americans who volunteered to fight it. If anything, Sniper is the very opposite of a recruiting poster for further American military adventures in the Middle East. The Iraqis are xenophobically and all but uniformly presented as duplicitous, indistinguishable ’savages’ (in Kyle’s lingo) unworthy of American sacrifice. The war is presented as a quagmire with nothing that can be called ’victory’ in the offing. The soldiers who fought the war, Kyle included, are seen as returning home in various forms of mutilation, physical and psychological, to an inadequate support system. That’s why it’s no surprise that Jane Fonda has praised Sniper: In some ways it does resemble her Vietnam film Coming Home.”
4. “How Technicolor Changed Storytelling.” A century ago, people worried that color would ruin motion pictures; instead, it changed visual narratives forever.
“There’s some irony in the fact that colorizing film—ostensibly to make it look more like the real world—may have cemented the medium’s dreamy, escapist quality. The three-color process, in particular, created films punctuated by colors so electric they were surreal. That continued through the era in which Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Betty Grable, and others became superstars—an era that is still referred to as Hollywood’s golden age. ’Technicolor had developed this very vibrant, saturated palette,’ [James] Layton told me. ’When these films started getting more colorful, that’s what audiences reacted to. They loved this artificial, fantasy, over-the-top palette. And that’s the way color shifted. It’s idealized.’”
5. ”Timbuktu and Girlhood.” Richard Brody on the Abderrahmane Sissako and Céline Sciamma films.
“Two movies on the same theme—patriarchal control of women’s bodies and, in particular, black women’s bodies—are opening this weekend: one, Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, is a masterwork, and the other, Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, is fascinating but mediocre. The aesthetic difference between the two movies isn’t merely ornamental or academic; it’s the difference between an experience and a mechanism, between a world view and a thesis. Sciamma’s film moves backward—she knows where her protagonist is meant to end up, and she seems to retrofit the action to bring about the needed results. Sissako builds the film forward, advancing with the characters to discover the unexpected consequences that result from their conflicts. Though he knew the story that he was telling, he seems surprised nonetheless by its details, and his nuanced, insightful images appear to be his spontaneous and real-time response to them.”
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