Wednesday, March 02, 2011

So much has been happening in the last three weeks (since i last posted). Of course, internationally, the political situation has never been more volatile, and the Middle East is in absolute turmoil. And in this country, the union-busting efforts of the politicians in Wisconsin have caused a real surge of activity.

But (let's face it) for those of us who toil (in some fashion or other) in the movies, the past few weeks were all about the end of award season, i.e., the double hammy of the Independent Spirit Awards (feb. 26) and the Academy Awards (feb. 27). And it really was a double whammy this year. So many people complained about the shows, but (really) who cares about the shows? When were award shows ever "good"? The Tony Awards used to be relatively tasteful and timely, but Broadway is relatively classy as opposed to the agreed-upon crassness of Hollywood. This year, Peter Knegt at IndieWire asked me to participate in the "Who Will Win/Who Should Win" poll. At first, i was hesitant (what hesitant? i wasn't going to do it) but then i decided, what the hell. So i sent in my "Who Will Win" choices, and i did pretty well in guessing the general mood. But no "Who Should Win", because (really) i have no stake in it and i don't really care. People tried to generate suspense by suggesting alternative possibilities (could Annette Bening pull out a last minute upset? will Melissa Leo's faux-pas in taking out her own "For Your Consideration" ads in the trades hurt her?), but i had a feeling it wasn't going to happen.

So the shows went on, and were (mostly) dreadful. And who cares? The winners were the winners, i guessed most of them, the people who got the awards were as expected and were as deserving as any others.

But what was interesting about this year's Academy Awards turned out to be the various indicators about the industry at this time. And that's something i want to go into, so i shall at a later date.

In terms of movies: i spent two weeks seeing French movies, the press screenings for Rendez-vous With French Cinema, which i bookended with a press screening for Bresson's "Journal d'un Cure de Campagne" and a press screening for Truffaut's "La Peau Douce". One amusing fact about Truffaut: i don't know whether it was conscious or not on his part, but the American titles of many of his movies are better than the original French titles, because the American titles are alliterative and catchy. Thus: "La Mariee etait en noir" became "The Bride Wore Black", "La Sirene du Mississippi" became "Mississippi Mermaid", "Domicile Conjugale" became "Bed and Board". "La Peau Douce" became "The Soft Skin". I wound up seeing eight of the films in the Rendez-vous series, and i have to say it wasn't such a bad year. But the absolute rigor and power of Bresson, and the glancing mastery of Truffaut, are virtues that the French cinema is not likely to repeat. Again, more on that later.


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