The Emmys have never been the gold standard of television (remember, these are the same people who have almost completely ignored The Wire) and this year wasn’t any different. I didn’t watch the show because about a few years ago, I realized how irrelevant the Emmys (and award shows in general) are to judging actual quality. On the other hand, the Emmys still retain its importance to the industry and for that matter they’re worth writing about. So here are my thoughts in bullet points (you can check out the complete winners on the Emmys’ own site).
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A magnificent career was cut short earlier this year when Philip Seymour Hoffman, who almost certainly will go down as one of the best talents of his generation, passed away. While Hoffman still has some posthumous pictures coming out, A Most Wanted Man is the famed actor’s final leading role. Knowing that I was watching Hoffman’s last role made me reflect back on his career, where he played a diverse variety of characters from Truman Capote to Lancaster Dodd. Hoffman’s adaptability and ease into any role is clear as Gunther Bahmann, a German intelligence agent lost in the depths of his job. It’s a performance that’s certainly evocative of Gene Hackman’s turn as a surveillance agent in The Conversation, and while A Most Wanted Man isn’t the finest picture Hoffman has starred in, it’s a triumphant final note.
Sadly, this week we lost one of Hollywood’s most iconic starlets, Lauren Bacall. The famed actress had starred in a great number of classic pictures, including The Big Sleep, The Dark Passage, and To Have or Have Not, her debut. In all three of those film, she starred alongside Humphrey Bogart, whom she eventually married. Along with Bogart, she also bravely fought against McCarthy during the Hollywood blacklisting of the 1950s. In the following decades she had less and less roles (though she was nominated for an Oscar in The Mirror Has Two Faces and had a cameo in The Sopranos), but remained a Hollywood legend.
A great talent like Bacall comes once in a lifetime. So for this week’s question, I thought I’d ask what’s your favorite Bacall role? I think I would say Key Largo; it was the first movie I saw her in and I still remember the picture well. But what about you?
There isn’t another comedian out there quite like Robin Williams. He told jokes faster than Usain Bolt can run, with each punchline coming quicker by the passing second. He was a master impersonator, a sharp comedian, and a unique personality.
Williams was found dead on Monday in an apparent suicide. It was no secret Williams had issues with alcoholism and depression; he went to rehab earlier this summer and talked about his problems earnestly on stage. But his death came as a complete shock for me. I grew up watching Williams, from Robert Altman’s Popeye to Mrs. Doubtfire. Williams’ exuberant personality made him not only a comic icon but a comforter of the masses. As the radio DJ in Good Morning, Vietnam, he helped relieve soldiers from the horrors of the Vietnam war. In Good Will Hunting, Williams’ therapist helped Matt Damon’s struggling and uncovered genius realize his full potential.
Often times, Williams’ sentimental streak came off heavy-handed and cloying in pictures like Dead Poets Society, Jakob the Liar, and, most notoriously, Patch Adams (my review caused one commenter to call me “an angry, pompous, close minded idiot, that is just one of the masses who wants to feel important, all at the expense of others”). But even still it’s difficult to deny how personal and heartfelt Williams was. May he rest in peace.
The recent release of Twin Peaks on blu-ray has excited die-hard David Lynch fans to not only see the nightmarish and bizarre northwestern town for the first time in high definition but for a new version of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which includes a number of deleted scenes Lynch left in the cutting room. While Fire Walk With Me is easily the most decisive film in Lynch’s filmography, a group of viewers (including myself) consider it a neglected and unfairly maligned picture, an ambitious if somewhat unnecessary experiment. While I haven’t yet purchased the collection (the movie unfortunately is not sold separately from the TV series, making the whole package very expensive), I’m very excited to see what’s available.
This brings me to this week’s question: what do you think of deleted scenes? Often times I’m excited to see them and typically when I purchase a movie on DVD, I make sure to watch them afterwards. But while some deleted scenes live up to the hype surrounding them (the extras in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master make it essential to buy), it becomes clear for many films that these scenes were cut for a reason: they’re non-essential or too excessive for the final draft. So despite my interest in them, deleted scenes are usually never quite as good as the movie’s actual content. But what about you?
I didn’t realize this until yesterday, but three years ago on August 4th was the day I started Cinematic back. So while I’m a day late, I’d still like to take some time to say some words of commemoration.
I made Cinematic to talk about my passion for film and television. Originally I spent little time on my blogging (my initial posts consisted of mostly short blurbs), but after a year and a half I revamped the site, writing a greater amount on reviews and taking recommendations.
To all my readers, I’d like to thank you for following my blog over all the years, whether you’ve followed me since the beginning or are new. While in the past few months I’ve written less than I did beforehand, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done with Cinematic. Hopefully I’ll continue to improve and update Cinematic in the years to come.
The biggest and probably only reason studios care about film critics are movie quotations; there’s nothing that makes a film look more appealing to audiences than reading recommendations (well, other than aggressive advertising and demographic targeting). Yet movie quotations have been pretty damning to film criticism, dumbing down astute analysis to easy-to-digest blurbs. There’s no worse culprit to this rule than Peter Travers, Rolling Stone’s film critic, who writes every single of his reviews as if he’s pitching lines for movie posters (just check his site for the offenders). It’s harmful for many up-and-going critics and film goers to think all film analysis is some cheap and digestible writing. That doesn’t mean I think all quotations are harmful (I take the opinions of a few critics like A. O. Scott or Michael Phillips seriously), but poster blurbs are hurting contemporary criticism.
But what do you think?
James Gray’s The Immigrant is a bleak tale about the American dream as its heroine Ewa (Marion Cotillard) fights for survival in a 20’s era New York. In interviews Gray has stated that his picture is based upon his grandparents’ own immigration but The Immigrant can equally be interpreted as homage to Roberto Rossellini. With its moody atmosphere and emphasis on religion, The Immigrant may be today’s Journey to Italy. While it isn’t the masterpiece that Journey to Italy is, The Immigrant certainly deserves praise for its evocative storytelling despite its lackluster pacing.
Experimental films is one of my favorite genres (even though when I was younger I considered them a slog to sit through) and after seeing The Trial I’ve gained a new appreciation of the genre. My favorite would probably have to be Man With a Movie Camera but there are a lot of great ones. But what would you pick?