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The Kid With A Bike (#110 of 7)

Oscar 2013 Nomination Predictions: Picture

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Oscar 2013 Nomination Predictions: Picture
Oscar 2013 Nomination Predictions: Picture

As is customary at this stage of the game, Oscar’s top quintet of Best Picture hopefuls are sure to land nominations, so much so that every pundit can pat himself on the back, saying proudly that if the Academy still stuck with a five-wide field, final predictions would be forgone conclusions, like the nudie jokes host Seth MacFarlane will make at Helen Hunt’s expense. You know the big five: Argo, Les Misérables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty, all of which look poised to score multiple nods beyond the top race. Last year, four additional films joined the chief batch of contenders, for a grand, surprising total of nine nominees—more than most expected from the Academy’s first sliding-scale approach to Best Picture. The consensus seems to be that 2012 was a stronger film year than 2011, and if the weaker year can muster a whopping nine candidates, then surely we’ll see a full crop of 10 this time around. The theory holds water, but it doesn’t really make the rest of the guessing any easier, as there are nine more films with bona fide shots at making the cut.

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2012

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2012
Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2012

From Calum Marsh’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s Top 25 Films of 2012: “Two thousand and twelve was, if nothing else, a banner year for uncommonly productive provocation. Audiences were galled by Rick Alverson’s divisive deconstruction of hipsterdom, The Comedy, beguiled by the taciturn charms of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, and, um, probed by the penetrating cultural criticism of David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. Masters of cinema both old and new even found time, between saucy bouts of male stripping and fellating chicken parts, to butt heads with every conceivable status quo, grappling admirably with hot-button issues as wide-ranging as colonialism (Tabu), U.S.-endorsed torture (Zero Dark Thirty, maybe or maybe not endorsing it itself), and the very nature of cinema (Jafar Panahi, who didn’t make a ’film’ at all).” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots.

Understanding Screenwriting #93: The Deep Blue Sea, A Separation, Pauline Kael, & More

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Understanding Screenwriting #93: <em>The Deep Blue Sea</em>, <em>A Separation</em>, Pauline Kael, & More
Understanding Screenwriting #93: <em>The Deep Blue Sea</em>, <em>A Separation</em>, Pauline Kael, & More

Coming Up In This Column: The Deep Blue Sea, A Separation, The Forgiveness of Blood, The Kid With a Bike, Salt of Life, Letters to Young Filmmakers: Creativity & Getting Your Film Made (book), Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark (book), but first…

Fan Mail: I will take David Ehrentstein at his word that he was serious about Mandingo (1975) is one of the best films about race in America, but I am not sure anybody else will. On Smash’s Ellis I don’t think I made it clear that I think he is bi as well. And I agree completely with David that the “Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking” number is the best one so far in Smash. That episode had not shown up at the time I wrote US#92. Interesting though that they only showed the rehearsal/audition version and did not cut to the fully produced number as they sometimes do. Well, some people can look forward to seeing all those chorus boys in just their towels.

The Deep Blue Sea (2011. Screenplay by Terence Davies, adapted from the play by Terence Rattigan. 98 minutes.)

Terence, meet Terence: Terence Rattigan (1911-1977) was one of the leading British playwrights of the middle of the twentieth century. The period of his greatest success was from 1946 to 1956. His dramas were literate and restrained, usually about members of the upper class stifling their emotions. His work became almost instantaneously unfashionable with the arrival of the Angry Young Men playwrights like John Osborne. But even before his death, Rattigan’s reputation began to regain some of its luster, as did the reputation of his contemporary Noël Coward, and for some of the same reasons. Both wrote dramas about people with restrained emotions, which gives actors a lot of subtext to play. Both were also extraordinary theatrical craftsmen, especially in the area of dramatic structure.

15 Famous Kids with Bikes

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15 Famous Kids with Bikes
15 Famous Kids with Bikes

Pedaling its way into theaters this weekend (and surely a lot of hearts too) is the Dardenne Brothers’ beautiful and poetic The Kid with a Bike, whose red-shirted, redemption-bound lead, Thomas Doret, should be penciled onto your shortlist of Best Actors for 2012. They may not be as common as the boy-and-his-dog tale, but stories about kids and their bikes have long been hitting screens (as evidenced herein, the 1980s, in particular, had a bike-film free-for-all). So before you check out this new can’t-miss slice of cycling cinema, dig into our list, likely the only one to put Nicole Kidman in the company of Lori Loughlin.

New York Film Festival 2011: The Kid with a Bike

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New York Film Festival 2011: The Kid with a Bike
New York Film Festival 2011: The Kid with a Bike

Eleven-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret) has two very clear goals for the near future: track down the father (Jérémie Renier) who abandoned him in a children’s home and find his lost bicycle. Like an abused dog, Cyril trusts no one, bites everyone, and bolts the moment you look away. After one escape attempt from the home, he runs into a medical clinic on the ground floor of his former apartment building and clings to a local hairdresser, Samantha (Cécile de France), as counselors from the home try to pry him off of her. Samantha soon shows up at the home with the boy’s bike in her trunk, having bought it from the guy Cyril’s dad sold it to. The next thing you know—and boy, does it happen quickly—she’s agreed to watch the fiery pitbull on weekends.

Toronto International Film Festival 2011: The Kid with a Bike and Faust

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Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>The Kid with a Bike</em> and <em>Faust</em>
Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>The Kid with a Bike</em> and <em>Faust</em>

The Kid with a Bike: Modern cinema’s poets laureate of working-class marginalization and spiritual crises, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are also bona fide motion-picture makers whose works brim with the kind of propulsive thrust that would have left pure action pioneers like Raoul Walsh or Allan Dwan green with envy. Think of the Belgian brothers’ new film, and the first thing that springs to mind is a red shirt zipping kinetically up and down and across the screen, rushing in and out of corridors when not climbing fences and trees. Of course, ardent humanists that they are, the Dardennes are interested first and foremost in the character wearing the shirt, a runty, half-feral 11-year-old boy (Thomas Dorset) whose single-minded pursuit of a feckless father who doesn’t want to see him (Jérémie Renier) adds to the filmmakers’ indelible intergenerational galleries of children plunging into adult worlds and adults learning to move beyond childish confines. As talismanic as De Sica’s, the bike of the title becomes the main element through which the film scrutinizes the boy’s anger and confusion, his relationship with a sympathetic hairdresser (Cécile de France) and a neighborhood hood (Egon Di Mateo), and the abrupt and furtive acts of revenge and compassion that lift rough-hewn realism into the realm of cinematic grace. Astoundingly unsentimental yet consistently heart-squeezing.

Cannes Film Festival 2011: The Kid with a Bike, Pina, & Good Bye

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Cannes Film Festival 2011: <em>The Kid with a Bike</em>, <em>Pina</em>, & <em>Good Bye</em>
Cannes Film Festival 2011: <em>The Kid with a Bike</em>, <em>Pina</em>, & <em>Good Bye</em>

Famous auteurs occasionally cruise through material so smoothly we misjudge potentially complex efforts as minor. I fear Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes new film, The Kid with a Bike, will be seen as such a film and get overlooked due to its short running time, concisely linear storyline, and almost perfectly aligned mosaic of fatherly failures. Like their masterpiece The Son, the Dardennes insist on destroying stereotypes regarding familial relationships. Yet in The Kid with a Bike they craft an entire film around one young boy’s relentless pursuit of home and protection, packing each frame with a sense of unlimited persistence. Still, the child’s search for identity can be easily manipulated, and the film’s most cutting moments come when adult indifference preys on the gullibility of youth for selfish ends.

An enduring drive propels 11-year-old Cyril (Thomas Dorset) to ignore the writing on the wall that his young father, Guy (Jérémie Renier), has indefinitely left him to the care of a state-run facility. The opening sequence introduces Cyril’s durability and directionality, as the boy escapes and heads toward his now abandoned apartment looking for his father and beloved bike. This trend of catch and release continues throughout The Kid with a Bike—Cyril running or riding away from places he hates for those that might represent home. His struggle is consistent, with every scene dedicated to Cyril outmaneuvering adults and roaming from one father figure to the next.