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Julian Schnabel (#110 of 7)

56th New York Film Festival Unveils Main Slate: Barry Jenkins, Claire Denis, Alex Ross Perry, Jean-Luc Godard in Lineup

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56th New York Film Festival Unveils Main Slate: Barry Jenkins, Claire Denis, Alex Ross Perry, Jean-Luc Godard in Lineup

Thunderbird Releasing

56th New York Film Festival Unveils Main Slate: Barry Jenkins, Claire Denis, Alex Ross Perry, Jean-Luc Godard in Lineup

Today, the Film Society of Lincoln Center's New York Film Festival announced its main slate of films for this year's event. On July 18, the festival announced Roma, Alfonso Cuarón's first film since Gravity, as its centerpiece selection. Since then, Yorgos Lanthithos's The Favourite was announced as the opening-night film and Julian Schnabel's At Eternity's Gate, about the last days of Vincent van Gogh and starring Willem Dafoe in the leading role, as the festival's closer. Below is the full lineup of 30 films from 22 countries.

Toronto International Film Festival 2010: Miral, The Trip, Boxing Gym, & Amigo

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Toronto International Film Festival 2010: <em>Miral</em>, <em>The Trip</em>, <em>Boxing Gym</em>, & <em>Amigo</em>
Toronto International Film Festival 2010: <em>Miral</em>, <em>The Trip</em>, <em>Boxing Gym</em>, & <em>Amigo</em>

Miral: In an early passage, the owner of a Jerusalem home for orphans is asked if she’s ever been married. “No. But I have 2,000 daughters.” The line is right out of Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and, accordingly, Julian Schnabel’s multi-generational sprawler seldom ventures beyond that level of old-studio, spell-it-out earnestness. Chronicling the Palestinian cause from 1947 to 1994 as a mosaic of female solidarity and sorrow, it follows a thread started by Hiam Abbass’s compassionate matriarch and picked up by Yasmine Al Massri’s damaged odalisque and Ruba Blal’s nurse-turned-bomb-planter. Regrettably, the main torch bearer is an increasingly politicized schoolgirl who, as played by Frieda Pinto, creates a vacuum at the center of the screen. Scarcely known for the searching intellectual rigor this story cries for, Schnabel here also stumbles as a mercurial imagesmith, applying his usual stylistic flourishes (canted camera angles, solarized hues, Tom Waits dirges) to the narrative like smeary paint on glass. Paving the road to hell (or is it the Academy Awards?) with good intentions, it’s a middlebrow stew of distracting star cameos, stilted speechifying, and, in a particularly unwise move that bluntly calls attention to its deficiencies as a political-humanistic tract, references to The Battle of Algiers.

Oscar 2008 Winner Predictions Director

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Oscar 2008 Winner Predictions: Director
Oscar 2008 Winner Predictions: Director

Jason Reitman’s Juno, they tell us, is a possible spoiler in the Best Picture race, but few seem to think its director stands a chance of winning here. Either fans of the film are content perpetuating the myth that comedies, like Little Miss Sunshine, direct themselves, or they really think Juno is only as good as Diablo Cody’s screenplay. Except Reitman accomplished what Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris could not, and that was scoring an actual nomination in this category, suggesting that even the most sensible Academy branch likes the film more than just for Juno’s screechy verbal pyrotechnics. Still, the consensus seems to be—and we didn’t need the Globes to tell us this—that folks are more fond of the effusive visual textures Julian Schnabel applies to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly like a gauze than they are of Reitman’s Crayola set. Even without a Best Picture nomination, Schnabel shouldn’t be discounted, though Tony Gilroy’s impeccable aping of Sydney Pollack’s sleepy-time career work probably should. And with There Will Be Blood slowly climbing to the very tippy-top of IMDB’s Top 250 (this week it’s at #18), you’d have to be a loon to think the Coens have this one locked. For all its acclaim, No Country for Old Men simply doesn’t inspire the same fervid, almost-certifiable affection fanboys (and fangirls) have heaped on Paul Thomas Anderson’s live-action cartoon. Of course, There Will Be Blood may also be the most divisive film in this lot, so if PTA loses here it’s not really because more people like No Country for Old Men but because there are not enough people who can stomach There Will Be Blood. But the DGA already had its say, so if you know how the DGA-to-Oscar transition rates go, you also know where to place your cards on Oscar night.

Oscar 2008 Nomination Predictions Director

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Oscar 2008 Nomination Predictions: Director
Oscar 2008 Nomination Predictions: Director

How do you go about predicting this category when at least three of the frontrunners would be considered candidates for the fifth-slot “slip your auteur in here, director’s branch” spot in any other year? Do you go all out and presume that this year’s non-Best Picture-aligning directors will be even more out of left field than usual? Or do you simply figure that this category will always look roughly the same, regardless of what’s going on over in the Best Picture category? The Coen brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, and, arguably, Julian Schnabel are all pretty close to locks, and even though we’re not confident of Schnabel’s movie making the Best Picture lineup, he’s been cited enough by the precursors (Globes, DGA) to render his capacity for filling out that perceived fifth slot moot. Sean Penn is probably less assured of a nomination, since the days when actors behind the camera getting props from the director’s branch peaked a while ago (probably when Mel Gibson stole the Oscar from Tim Robbins; they’re still atoning for letting Ron Howard in the building on what should’ve been David Lynch or Robert Altman’s night), but we’re pretty sure Penn’s film will shape up to be the compromise choice in a number of categories, including Best Picture. Between those four, we have a lineup that represents the juiciest section of the bell curve delineating both directorial excellence and middlebrow credibility. The question is: Will the fifth slot be waxing or waning? There is no shortage of candidates in either category—Christian Mungui, Werner Herzog (though one of us thinks little Dieter needed to remain a documentary), David Fincher, and…brr, Jason Reitman—but the eventual nominee will likely fall somewhere in between. David Thomson has a swell reputation among old school cinephiles for whom all current cinema is stillborn and among everyone who thinks of Nicole Kidman when they wank, and he recently posted a few thoughts about which directors are in the mix. No surprise, he’s jazzed up (at least by his standards) by the prospect of Sidney Lumet scoring a nod. We’re going to have to veto that idea, since no director who has been in the game should have to resort to both lightening-flash edits and title cards reading “three hours earlier” to indicate flashbacks. Thomson also shortlists the perpetually photo-op-ready Joe Wright, who isn’t exactly an auteur in the traditional, Erich von Stroheim sense, so we have to assume he’s really just enthusiastic about Atonement’s chances, though he apparently thinks very little of the film. We don’t think quite so little of it and neither are we very enthusiastic about its Oscar chances. Lastly, Thomson brings up Tim Burton, whose self-flattering take on Sweeney Todd merits consideration, if only because the category’s other brand names—Coen, Anderson—branched off in strange directions this year. We predict him to replace DGA nominee Tony Gilroy, completing a category filled with, and we mean this as a comparative compliment, fifth-wheel contenders.

On the Circuit: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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On the Circuit: <em>The Diving Bell and the Butterfly</em>
On the Circuit: <em>The Diving Bell and the Butterfly</em>

Jean-Dominique Bauby’s story is one of struggle and perseverance. In 1995, at the age of 43, the editor of the French edition of Elle magazine fell into a stroke-induced coma, only to awaken several weeks later with a rare disorder, “locked-in syndrome,” that left him a literal prisoner in his own body.

Unable to speak beyond a 90-degree twist of the head and the occasional prehistoric gurgle or grunt, Bauby could only communicate by blinking his left eyelid in response to a specially designed alphabet, forced to spell out his each and every word one letter at a time. But rather than retreat into a petrified oblivion, Bauby patiently dictated a book, a slim memoir entitled “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” that deals with his recognition and acceptance of this most likely incurable condition.