Gus Van Sant Gets Milk Nearly All Right
Gus Van Sant has done an excellent job of making a completely well crafted movie about the life and times of Harvey Milk who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone in San Francisco on November 27th 1978 - and tomorrow it will be exactly 30 years since Dan White, an ex fireman executed these two men in their offices under the influence of Twinkies. The film premiered earlier last month in San Francisco on October 28th and all the actors were on hand with Gus Van Sant to usher in the film at the Castro Theater.
Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk and he is totally convincing in every scene in representing this wonderful and enthusiastic supervisor who knew about people and their needs and how to successfully implement policy by building grass root connections. Harvey Milk energized the gay community and helped make the Castro a booming mecca for gay men. Though lesbians preferred to hang out in the East Bay or in the Mission, according to activist San Francisco educator Sally Gearheart Milk was concerned that lesbians were represented in every issue and brought in Anne Kronenberg ( Alison Pill) to run his campaign. Its hard to not fall in love all over again with Milk and thanks to the efforts of Sean Penn he is made real down to his truly humble happy and hard working persona. Josh Brolin plays Dan White brilliantly, a homicidal man Milk believed was a troubled latent homosexual. Despite his childish excesses Harvey Milk continued to fraternize with White even seconds before he was shot. Less successful in the film is Diego Luna as Milk’s lover Jack Lira. In real life though he was caught up with helping distressed men his long-term relationship with Scott Smith (James Franco) endured even after they went separate ways.
The film is not only the story of Harvey Milk but the galvanization of the gay community in San Francisco and while Milk would have been quick to point out that there are very few lesbians in this film – something that Van Sant seems to miss - he would have been happy to know that things changed during his life for the better. It is not always easy to make an historical film that rings true to life but Milk is one of those films that seems to get it mostly right.
Movie Magazine San Francisco Airdate November 26 2008
Its an incredible win for Barack Obama, no, incredible is not the word. Its credible. This victory shows that the old paradigm has shifted because we have evolved. The limited blue state, red state argot created out of the aftermath of the last eight year administration is soon to become obsolete just as other significations seem to have marched on. Remember when a red state was a Marxist state?
The color scheme this time seems to be a purple united states. At least that is how Obama envisions it. His victory speech on election night has to be one of the most powerful he has made to date, and of any politician of recent time for that matter, revealing so much more of his core. Obama is also a writer. Nobel prize recipient Toni Morrison points that out. He writes his own speeches and is not dependent on ghost writers. Clearly he won't be needing them for his inaugural address either. I recall the last inauguration that I watched in transit at Logan Airport in Boston. I was excited about a new time that promised a different kind of change. Poet laureate Dr Maya Angelou afterwards called Bill Clinton the first "black" president. Barack Obama is the real first. But he is far more than that. His refreshing ideas are what make him stand out more than anything, as well as his cool and refusal to stoop to manipulation and bating. He also picks his own staff and his running mate. He doesn't have to stiff it to anyone like the McCain camp who is already hanging out Governor Palin. As if to say that if McCain lost it was because of a woman. Obama shows every sign, so far, of making his own decisions and being comfortable in the driver's seat.
But now we come to another issue on election day that did not go so well. California Proposition 8, a deftly worded bigoted Mormon funded proposal to ban gay marriage passed by a small majority (5000 votes). One of the most expensive campaigns on a single issue in US history. How can it be, and of course the answer is inherent in the question, that we can embrace change on so much but not on the subject of marriage rights for lesbians and gays? The time has not come? What comparisons can we make here? Repealing Roe/Wade is not going to happen in this presidency, but perhaps gay marriage will not either. Civil rights for all is the paradigm waiting to shift, and perhaps San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is the person that will make that happen as he steps into the national arena. Could he be the "first gay mayor" for making it known that this was a real election day defeat in a blue state that is far from the color purple.
Journalist Ulrike Meinhof: From Theory to Practice
June 2 1967, representingwho were beaten and shot. Moritz Bleibtreu) in Edel's filmsuch as the shooting of civilians in Vietnam,Bundeskriminalamt (German bureau of investigation) tries to piece together why young people are becoming terrorists in Germany, naïvely intellectualizing the violence - a phenomena that Meinhof had spent years studying before becoming an activist. It is Herold who lights up like a Christmas tree when he connects the protests over US military imperialism in Vietnam, the generous supply o f US weapons to Israel, and the search for oil in the Middle East - to the bombings and gun power of the RAF. As military police he knows that terrorism is a reflection of power imbalance and his strategy is to make it larger and crank up the volume full blast to squash any resistance, thereby creating an über police state with tacit support of the German population. In response Ulrike Meinhof quotes Mao who states that a clear line of distinction is created when the enemy tries to squelch the truth by blacklisting the protest(ers). When she is incarcerated and isolated at Köln-Ossendorf she is aware of the effect this has on the psyche. When she later interacts with Gudrun Esslin at Stammheim to get their case prepared for trial they turn on each other. But although Esslin was considered the leader of the RAF it is actually Meinhof's analysis of repressive political systems that sets them apart from senseless young hooligans, and which motivates their cause and conviction. Esslin no longer can make sense of Meinhof's analyses that have served the RAP before their incarceration. She insists that RAF take full responsibility for their actions - and that a rescue mission be set into operation to get them out.
The Baader Meinhof Complex is Germany's contribution to the Best Foreign Language film category for this year's Academy Awards. It is a riveting chronicle of events from June 2 1976 to several bank robberies and bombings and the incarceration of several members of the RAF. Events leading up to the trial of astonishing legal impropriety and the presumed execution of Meinhof, Esslin and Baader reveals a bungling intelligence apparatus gone haywire that just wants to make it go away, anyway. There has been a distinct glamourization of violence and sexuality up until this point. The Baader Meinhof Complex is after all aimed at young people who weren't born at the time, and older people who were young at the time. At Stammheim it stops. Gone are the devil may care rides on the freeway at top speed, the spirit of collective action and the intoxicating suspense and high of several planned attacks that consume the film almost until the end. Yet the incarceration of the RAF leaders encouraged more young people to continue their cause. The execution of members of the Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972 is linked to the RAF, further evidence of the proverb that if you cut off the head of a dragon more will grow in its place. Bob Dylan's song at the end that "the answer is blowing in the wind" describes how little Germany understood its youth and their rebellion. The Baader Meinhof Complex articulates the mind and muscle behind political violence and it resonates deeply for those trying to make sense of terrorism today.
Lesbos Remains Lesbos
The island of Lesbos was named in antiquity after the Thessalian hero Lesbos, husband of Methymne, daughter of Makar. The name Lesbos is thought to come from the poet Sappho who was born on the island in 7 BC and who wrote romantic poetry to women. Some islanders strongly disagree that she was a lesbian and there are rumors that lesbians who visit the island to honor Sappho scare away tourists. But it seems to be the consensus of most islanders that tourism is on the increase because of international lesbians.
Don't these people have something better to do with their time? Whether Sappho was a Lesbian or just a Lesvian? Whether its Lesbos or Lesvos ? For example helping the wildlife (Lesbian spelled with a B) - or birdwatching on Lesvos spelled with a V when the birds first land after winter migration.
Note: I have regularly visited Lesb/vos for the past 12 years and have made films on the island which have been shown in Sweden, Greece and France.
"No Tears, No Applause, No Ontoward Outburst..."?
"IFILL: The next round of -- pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Sen. Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?
BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.
The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted -- same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That's only fair.
It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.
IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?
PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that's sometimes where those steps lead.
But I also want to clarify, if there's any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don't agree with me on this issue.
But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.
But I will tell Americans straight up that I don't support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.
But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.
IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?
BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.
The bottom line though is, and I'm glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that's the case, we really don't have a difference.
IFILL: Is that what you said?
PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.
IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let's move to foreign policy." (Laughter from audience).
Palin and Biden are consistent in one respect: "infantalizing" same sex partners via limited civil rights. The Alaska Governor is known for "Palinisms" (not unlike Bush Juniorisms) - circuitous often indirect and nonsensical mumbo jumbo. Let's look at it Sarah: Gwen's question to you was whether you supported gay marriage and "your answer is not the same as Joe's and it is that you do not". You explained that some of your "friends" would not be happy that you are "tolerant" of everyone's right to choose a partner. You admitted you have a "diverse" group of friends ( gay?). But that you are skeptical of same sex partners having hospital visitation and contractual rights. That in approving this you are concerned that we would be moving closer to the definition of marriage that is operationally "defined" as a union "between a man and a woman". BTW your colorful "folksy " superlatives: "bless their hearts, " the Feds" , "I betcha"," heck of a lot", and " darn" - and your Joe Six Pack and Hockey Mom analogies and beliefs on Russian foreign policy and climate change - will go down in history.
Joe, your "diplomatic " sanction of gay "civil rights" may appear more liberal. Maybe that is because you didn't have to imply "some of my best friends are gay" or "my other friends would not be happy about my position". But leaving the responsibility of same sex marriage up to "faiths" and "people who practice faiths" in a nation with a clear legislative separation of church and state is not far from cornball. Amen.
Tieing the Knot in San Francisco after 55 years, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon
This video of the wedding by Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff shows the ceremony officiating by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Phyllis Lyon died only months after the wedding.
“Registered partnership” - not marriage - has been legal in Sweden since 1995 and exists in several countries today. The clinical phrasing makes it easy to create and dissolve partnerships, like registering a business. The first partnerships were often created as expressions of political victory – a milestone for so-called “equal protection under the law”, but which does not come close to the meaning of honor and commitment in marriage. This was a hard earned victory in California shot down in 2004 and which still risks extinction on the ballot in November 2008. Massachusetts paved the way in the USA to make it happen. Hopefully one day it will become Federal law and we can sponsor our partners wherever they reside. There are seven “nations” in the world today that acknowledge marriage including Massachusetts and California. The right to marry should be a fundamental right and certainly is embodied in what is meant by “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Neither of the Presidential candidates sanction marriage. Nor did Hillary (or Bill) Clinton. Certainly Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon showed the world love and endurance for 55 years. And as more “nations” legalize marriage let these two women’s love be a shining beacon. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is one of the most courageous and forward thinking politicians we have today. The words he read for Del and Phyllis about marriage express that it is something that should be carefully considered. For sure this is what these two lesbian pioneers did and they waited over two generations for the right to legally marry.
Palin for President? OMG!
There wouldn't be much point in spotlighting women in the media if a few moments weren't spent on Sarah Palin, much as I dislike having to do it. The woman N.O.W will not endorse, the woman that is a Vice Presidential candidate to a Presidential candidate that will slash all federal spending except to veterans and troops overseas. The woman who said " bet they're sorry now" to the Democrats for NOT choosing a woman, i.e. Hillary Clinton.
This election was so clearly Hillary Clintons' but maybe the goofuses in the Republican party headquarters who couldn't read the signals correctly put just any woman on the ticket. Hillary Clinton was often the brunt of jokes about her gender, and Sarah Palin is no different. But while the arguments leveled by Clinton had foresight, Palin seems to be winging it alone, hit or miss, mostly miss on a variety of topics that makes it clear that any old woman isn't the same as someone who knows what she is doing. A Christian right candidate with a ready made constituency that opposes Roe Wade, evolution and stem cell research is the last thing we need. And if the senior McCain were to pass on, "bet we'll be sorry now".
These positions were expressed by Palin in speeches during the past few years:
- Rejected sympathy for Down's Syndrome son, as gift from God. (Aug 2008)
- Opposes embryonic stem cell research. (Aug 2008)
- Only exception for abortion is if mother's life would end. (Jul 2006)
- Opposes explicit sex-education programs. (Jul 2006
- $7 billion savings plan for education & transportation. (Dec 2007)
- Marriage only be between and man and a woman. (Nov 2006)
- No spousal benefits for same-sex couples. (Jul 2006)
- Teach creationism alongside evolution in schools. (Aug 2008)
- Pledge of Allegiance with 'Under God' is good enough. (Jul 2006)
- Global warming affects Alaska, but is not man-made. (Aug 2008)
- Hunts as much as she can; freezer-full of wild game. (Aug 2008)
- Health care must be market-and business-driven. (Jan 2008)
- Visiting injured soldiers in Germany was trip of a lifetime. (Sep 2008)
- Energy is a foundation of national security. (Sep 2008)
- Miss Congeniality in statewide beauty pageant in 1984. (Aug 2008)
By far the biggest blunder is illustrated in the latest edition of The New Yorker: since Russia is within a bird's eye view of Alaska Palin feels she has qualified foreign policy experience. This may only amount to cooperating on trading missions across the border - such as exchanging wild game or whatever but the claim will land her in the Idiot Hall of Fame. Too bad she is a woman. It makes it worse. It may be true that dumb politicians resonate with voters such as George Bush Jr, and maybe its just a ploy to play dumb. But stupid is as stupid does.
Let's not forget George Jr reading a book upside down at a school for young children, or appearing on camera like a deer in highlights when told about the WTC on September 11th.
There is something remarkably similar about the recent utterances of Sarah Palin. Aren't they enough of a red flag? No wonder Obama wants to target funding for early education.
Katie Couric's soon to be legendary scoop with the "executive of" the state of Alaska reveals a riled up often incoherent and bumbling fool at work.
I sincerely feel for Sarah Palin, I truly do because she is doing the best she can, the best she thinks she can, though she could do far better if she were another person altogether, which she isn't.
Fifteen hundred women in Anchorage Alaska aren't particularly happy with the "executive of" and protested her nomination two hours after it was made, an event nowhere in the media. And remember the woman mysteriously escorted out during the nomination?
Truly women don't vote for a woman just because she is a woman. Are we learning yet? At least Sarah Palin should know something more about politics than being a poor Hillary imitation for Vietnam war veteran John McCain.
Tilda Swinton, Isaac Julien and Derek Jarman
On the closing day of San Francisco Pride, a day full of a grand parade through the streets of San Francisco one of the most brilliant films of the Frameline LGBT Film Festival, Derek screened to an audience at the Castro Theater. The artistic director of the festival Michael Lumpkin had wanted to show one of Jarman's films, which were impossible to find in a 35mm print in the USA. That is something to take note of since Derek Jarman and his films reminds us of a time in British filmmaking that no longer exists, a combination of the political, the artistic and, with a focus on gay sexuality in several complex films such as Sebastiane (1976) and Caravaggio (1986). Jarman served as production designer for Ken Russel's fascinating treatise on sexuality and the repressed clergy - The Devils. (1970). And without Jarman, Tilda Swinton said her industry career would never have taken off. She was asked to deliver a lecture on Jarman, a lecture that turned into a documentary film that she produced and wrote and which was beautifully directed by Isaac Julien.
Swinton is featured in the documentary, staring at times straight into the camera as she did in Sally Potter's Orlando. "Here I am, and this is what I believe. So what do you think? Her and Julien's appearance in the film personalizes it and is never out of place. It allows for the material to update, and for the memorial to take place. And when we look at the images, we do miss Derek Jarman.
Jarman was productive at a time before Margaret Thatcher and while the lucrative funding the British Film Institute gave to artists to develop their own voice in cinema was intact. Looking at some of his work it is with melancholy that one notes that this kind of film is not being made, this kind of film is not screened at Frameline, for after all Frameline simply culls from what is out there and is a showcase of the latest in LGBT cinema. Jarman marched in gay parades, just as we did today and when diagnosed with HIV gave a voice to his illness. Recall the years when Pride parades were virtually non existent in the 80's. His last film Blue with a voice over on his illness set to a blue screen was made just before he died in 1994.
Derek is an outstanding collage of the work of Jarman, his films, music videos, and a lengthy interview with Colin McCabe in 1990 at his home Prospect Cottage in Dungeness which serves as a voice over to his images. His artistic sensibility is so incredibly rich and dynamic that it is impossible to not be inspired by his work and appreciate his contributions to cinema, art and set design. Swinton and Julien's homage hits home.
Barbara Hammer is the Reigning Lesbian Filmmaker Par Excellence
Of all the films at Frameline, an evening with experimental work is a night to remember. From a woman who learned how to make movies at San Francisco State. And when she went to school she saw the films of only one woman: Maya Deren: the filmmaker that chose to make experimental, personal films.
Its time to wash away the made for TV scripts, the lesbian love that is unrequited, and the women who kills themselves because they can not have the one they love. There were several films this year at Frameline. Are we learning yet? Are these retrograde themes harking back to Sandy Dennis being felled by a tree in The Fox or Susannah York being forced to eat Beril Reid's cigar in The Killing of Sister George a metaphor for something that is happening to lesbian identity today? Even if so, Barbara makes us remember that its beautiful to be a lesbian at any age, and that the experimental format is a powerful tool of expression.
Here is a film that uses metaphor, to show an incredible joy for life despite a life threatening experience at the risk of alienating the public. "How has this film been received?", asked someone in the audience. "I don't know, you are the first audience", answered Barbara. As one of the first spectators I can only ask, what would the world be without Barbara Hammer? She has brought to lesbian filmmaking a uniqueness, a passion, a daring challenge to see and experience, sit and squirm , feel uncomfortable and provoked, and afterwards feel that you have gone through an ordeal into visionary and auditory realms that have made you richer for the experience. The choice of music by Meredith Monk, another incredible veteran artist , empowered the film and sent it soaring. "I always wanted to ride a horse", says Barbara, who took to the saddle faced with the acknowledgement that life is precious and can be cut short, so you better darn well enjoy all you can.
4th Queer Women of Color Film Festival in San Francisco
There is a trained staff of volunteers that usher in the block long length of women, and if you are on time there is no problem with a seat. The tradition of the festival is to serve food, also free, to make everyone feel at home. The feedback that each filmmaker gets from her film is enough to keep the images rolling for a long time, for the crowd is generous and knows what it likes.
To celebrate this event, a representative of Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke about how the festival is appreciated and honored by the City of San Francisco. With the new passage of legalized marriage in California and a conservative backlash already in gear to try to defeat the measure in November, strong community action is underway to get people out to vote. According to the representative, "let's get the measure passed, then worry about deconstructing the institution of marriage". Right on. Activism is a key component to the Queer Women of Color Festival (QWOCMAP), with leaflets in the vestibule for signatures to Mayor Newsom, "I support having a city owned Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center in San Francisco", and to Governor Schwarzenegger, " I recently attended the QWOCMAP Film Festival that was part of the Unisted States of Asian America Festival and National Queer Arts Festival". In California, public support of the arts is 3 cents per person, whereas the national average is one dollar.
This year Pratibha Parmar was the special invited guest to the festival, a British Indian who was born in Kenya and grew up in London in a working class neighborhood. She never went to film school but has made several films, one of which won the public prize for the best film at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival - Khush, a film about gay and lesbians in South Asia, and those interviewed came out for the first time . "Khush" means "ecstatic pleasure" in Urdu.
Parmar was interviewed by the award-winning journalist Helen Zia, author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. Two other films were shown in a retrospective of Parmar's work: Bhangra Jig and Wavelengths. The films are archived by Women Make Movies in New York, an organization that rents films to schools and universities. Parmar noted the quality of the films on video and is planning on a DVD release of her work in the near future. Of particular interest is Parmar's latest film Nina's Heavenly Delight which has won several top awards at festivals in Fresno, Tampa and the Cineffable Lesbian Film Festival in Paris. Parmar plans to spend more time in the Bay Area with her partner of 16 years.
Programs were divided into three themes this year in addition to the special Sunday screening "Sexually Subversive": "Kindred Spirits", films about family relations, and "Delectably Yours", a pageant of films on food.
Highlights of some of the films this year include: Labels Are Forever (Jinky de Rivera, 2008).The opening titles reads like the introduction to Star Wars in this humorous saga about 007 Secret Agent J. Wong. Wong is sent by her boss to investigate how labels are used by a group of women only to discover that the assignment is bogus.
Luna Han takes a look at The Cock: Lesbian Owned & Operated (2008).
Han was also the better half in One in a Million by Monifa Porter (2008) a playful journey into the twists and turns of a lesbian fertility rite. If you click here you can see the festival's secret agent on duty.
Renacimiento de una bruja (Zemaya, 2008) is a spiritual oddyssey by a woman with the earth and her ancestors.
Queering My Mother (Lourdes Rivas, 2007) tells the story of mother that polices her daughter too much especially when she has met that special woman. As the title suggests, the evolution of awareness by the filmmaker's mother is at stake, and she does it in style.
Jagadamba, Mother of the Universe (Amber Field, 2008) is about a young South Korean woman comes to terms with her adoption in the USA while also questioning celebrities such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie who have adopted children from developing nations to give them better lives. The evolution of the young woman is traced as she comes to terms with being a lesbian and also a martial artist.
In Too Much Plain (Caroline Le, 2008) A young woman tries to figure out what's wrong with all her girlfriends with her best friend, only to discover that its because she wants to be more than best friends with her confidant.
A handful of the films were also shown at the Frameline32 LGBT Film Festival June 19-29 in a section called "Magical Promise", which is precisely what you can say about so many gifted directors at QWOCMAP.
61st Cannes Film Festival
The 61st Cannes Film Festival ended on May 25 after a 10 day run, the festival which is one of the most prestigious and which is known for screening artistic world class films. What was really refreshing about this years Cannes was the choice of the jury president, Mr. Sean Pean, a man who has worked hard for films with social issues and who has really come into his own. Other jury members included Natalie Portman and Alfonso Cuaron.
The Palme d'Or this year when to The Class by Laurent Cantet and was presented by Robert De Niro. This is the first time a French film won the top prize in 21 years. The film is about a teacher who tries to prepare a junior high school class in a rough neighborhood in Paris for the future, though the students challenge the way that he goes about it. The story is autobiographical and the teacher, François Bégaudeau, plays himself. The jury chose this film unanimously and Sean Penn said it is the young people of today who have the responsibility for the future of the planet.
Two veterans received the special Prize of the 61st Festival de Cannes the so-called ex-aequo awards.
Catherine Deneuve for A Christmas Tale by Arnaud DESPLECHIN also starring the French-Italian actress Chiara Mastroianni, the daughter of Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni.
And Clint EASTWOOD won for The Changeling, the story of a mother played by Angela Jolie whose kidnapped son is returned but who knows it is not her son.
The Award for the Best Director went to Nuri Bilge CEYLAN for Three Monkeys, a film that like its title deals with corruption in a family that doesn’t want to see hear or speak the truth.
At the press conference for the jury it was noted that the two acting awards went to films with social relevance:
Benicio Del Toro was awarded for his performance in Che, by Steven SODERBERGH, the story of Che Guevara, the Argentinean doctor that sailed to Cuba to help bring about the downfall of Batista together with Fidel Castro. Soderbergh understands that the length all of 267 minutes, may scare off the average audience and his hope is that it can be shown in installments.
Sandra Corveloni won the other award for her role in LINHA DE PASSE by Walter SALLES, a film about the hopeless conditions for four brothers in Sao Paolo who struggle to avoid falling into a life of crime. Corveloni plays their mother the housemaid Clueza,
Other veterans who have been awarded at Cannes previously were Jean-Pierre et Luc DARDENNE who won the Best Screenplay award for Lorna’s Silence the story of an Albanian woman who acquires Belgian citizenship by marrying a Russian Mafioso.
The feeling this year was that there was a lot of good films, and not enough prizes to reward all of the good work. This was not a year when a film like The Brown Bunny, by Bad Boy Vincent GALLO stood among the talent. And Sean Penn brought a quality to the festival that will make the 61st edition stand out for a while, with a French film at the top.
Broadcast on Movie Magazine International, San Francisco, May 26, 2008.
Hollywood, A Country for Old Men and Foreigners
The anticipation is always higher than what the Oscars can deliver. I think Jon Stewart's opening line says it all: "No Country for Old Men, Let There Be Blood, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber?
Does Hollywood need a hug? Thank god for teenage pregnancy."
Maybe Hollywood does and maybe it doesn't. But the Oscars might need an audience, and the 80th edition had one of the lowest turnouts ever.
Word is out that at least in the USA viewing was low because not enough Americans were nominated! Looking at the actor categories its pretty awesome to note that the winners are all from outside the JUESSAY. Both Tilda and Marion gave kudos to the men that make them rock: Olivier Dahan and George Clooney and then Javier Bardem thanked his mother and Daniel Day Lewis his girfriend.
Joel Cohen revealed that what they do in No Country for Old Men is no different from their first film, Henry Kissinger on the Move, shot in Super 8. I hope that my Super 8 film on The Underwater Real Estate Twins and a human ashtray will catapult me to Oscar glory. It is really the same, yes it is. Time will tell.
The Oscars could be significantly shortened by taking out the music numbers and stop mentioning "Jack" all the time. As a role model it is unfortunate that he is the leading veteran in the house. Could we say his appearance with Boris Karloff in The Terror (1963) is actually no different from his appearance at the Oscars?
Indeed, Hollywood seems to really be a country for old men, and the men who make the women rock. And the men who decided to put them all in one arm dresses this year.
One refreshing addition to this Oscars was the thank you speech by Cynthia Wade, winner of the best short. She directed Freeheld, the true story of the terminally ill Lieutenant Laurel Hester who wanted to leave her pension benefits to her life partner - Stacie.
(PS 35,000 viewers from Sweden watched the ceremony on TV9- 45,000 average in the Red Carpet - acknowledged during the pre-event for sending email- and up from 20,000 viewers last year. Population of Sweden, 9 million.
Oscar-itis, Numero 80
When it comes to services, the bureaucrats of (Sweden) are fashionably late, albeit retro... not a politically incorrect statement; backwards, intentional refusal to update the world ; insistence in living in a cubicle of stubbornness. SO, I MADE the bureaucrats ADD TV9 before March 1! The "cable people". I wonder if they are really the "TV people" from Poltergeist living inside the set behind the war of the ants! Whew! This was hard, but persistence is rewarded, and this approach works! Disarm the bureaucrats before they can say no. Drive close up to their bumper and then ram! But the tailpipe may backfire: "we can't do it because everyone will want it then", or "that is not the way we do things". True customer (dis)service. Just a teenie little cultural idiosyncracy, enough to drive you to drink.
SEEING the Oscars is the name of the game! First hurdle every year, at least in Sweden. The media conglomerates keep channel switching the coverage to different hosts; only IF a Swedish film is nominated will the national channels pony up the money. OK the show is expensive, more expensive then Dallas reruns anyway. (According to Svenska Dagbladet 2008-02-27, 58% of the TV shows in Sweden are from USA, because they are cheaper). The condensed Reader's Digest version of the Oscars is broadcast two days later (subtitles included, and great to understand what Javier Bardem said about his mother!) With a speedy version of the technical and artistic achievement categories. This is really really sad.
I'll never forget the year I saw the Oscars in Paris on Canal + and the commentators talked on top of everyone the entire time, turned down the volume on the speakers so you couldn't even tune them out. Like a football game. But at least in Sweden they DON'T, and when they cut to commercials there is some pretty good analysis by some pretty good film critics. This year it was fashion expert Ellen Kling ( who left after 30 minutes into the show), program leader Pontus Gårdinger AND the popular film critic with the wirey hair, Hans Wiklund.
Best cinematography is a wonderful category at the Oscars that is awarded, the use of the camera and lighting in a film. I think the cinematography in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is excellent, bright light and soft focus, radiant outdoor shots and just incredible visual style. Hope it wins best cinematography. Director Julien Schnabel did Before Night Falls with Javier Bardem. (According to Maria Schneider, arthouse diva from Last Tango in Paris, Schnabel is one of the few arthouse directors out there). Its the six degrees of Javier this year! Javier Bardem for best supporting actor!--he is a real icon like Hannibal Lector as far as (serial ) murderers go in No Country for Old Men. How else could you describe him? That hairdo just is over the top! We will never forget him! Especially if he wins. I can bet you someone wears a Sugar Wig tonite!
I hope Atonement doesn't win anything! Actually I don't really care how a film compares to a book. It shouldn't even be considered. A film is a film, and a book is a book. Please just keep it separate. Usually book ideas don't make great films because film is not literary, its visual, so if people are SO disappointed go back and read the book. Film owes you nothing. Just your story for inspiration, that is all.
Haven't seen Juno, yet, or There Will be Blood, or Michael Clayton. But I would not be unhappy if No Country for Old Men won best picture, supporting actor and director. (and it did!)
Thought Viggo Mortensen was great in Eastern Promises, I loved that film! The great auteur David Cronenberg made it! What can that guy NOT do, and how versatile!
I am partial to Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd as best actor , a real ST fan I am! We have the advantage of the musical tradition in the USA which Sweden does not. Hard to sell this film perhaps because it is such a great musical, and well, then a musical is a musical, and a film is a film.
Torn between Julie Christie for Away From Her, a compassionate and moving film directed by Sarah Polley , a young director with such a sensitivity for the elderly, and Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf for La Môme - for best actress. Love them both. Olivier Dahan, the director of La Môme, was invited for the San Francisco International Film Festival, closing film 2007- and was a bit obnoxious, but I think he had stage fright. That is a real oxymoron.
TORN between Persepolis and Ratatouile for best animated film. Tight race! Both are brilliant. Ratatouille will probably win, its so Americano/Francophilo.
Have not seen I'm Not There yet oj oj oj but hear Cate Blanchett is good as Bob Dylan (she is currently in overuse syndrome), and Heath Ledger (really sorry to see you go) but NOT Richard Gere. Oh Please!
Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor but like Cate is overused in almost everything. I loved him in Capote. He could have retired after that one.
I will attempt to be glued to the set tonite, but will probably fall asleep unfortunately and wake up when the credits roll and the war of the ants begins. Its on here at 2.30am. No way around that. "Aphrodite, crowned in gold, please let this piece of luck of mine".
After the writers strike everyone will be out in droves. Hair, makeup, and tacky American ball room dresses. (Red Carpet on TV9 at midnite) I can't wait till Cannes for some real designs. Have to look at the tuxes then, usually a lot better. Alas, not sure if its a great Oscar year. But then don't we say that every year?
And what about that writer's strike? Seems like missing the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes was a fate worse than death. What Solidaritet! Could have missed the Oscars actually. Still haven't wrapped my head around the issues that need to be clarified once and for all.
Happy Oscars to you! Drop me a line during the show if you can any of you cinephiles!