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FESTIVALS: Berlinale Decision Points Pt. 3: Billy Bob Thornton and Melissa Leo play to their own tune

Part three of my Berlinale coverage, focusing on decision points: the moment when I pretty much made up my mind about a film, and how that moment reflects on the film as a whole, capped by my Indiewire grade.
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 14, 2012 10:50 AM
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  • 0 Comments

FESTIVALS: Berlinale Decision Points Pt. 2 - Paul Dano, Zellner Brothers and the first great film of the festival

Part two of my Berlinale coverage, focusing on decision points: the moment when I pretty much made up my mind about a film, and how that moment reflects on the film as a whole, capped by my Indiewire grade. Read Part One
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 12, 2012 5:29 AM
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  • 3 Comments

FESTIVALS: Berlinale Decision Points Pt. 1: Herzog on DEATH ROW and Lesbian Marie Antoinette

At what point do you make your mind up about a movie? It's an especially pressing question at a festival like "Berlinale," where you can watch as many as seven or eight films a day. There’s a risk of just letting these films wash over you and, to borrow a French phrase, “fall from your eyes,” so that you leave the theater with just a vague impression of what you’ve seen and few specifics to say. To fight this I’ve decided to shape my "Berlinale" coverage around decision points: the moment where I pretty much made up my mind about a film, and how that moment reflects on the film as a whole, capped by my Indiewire grade:
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 10, 2012 7:47 AM
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  • 0 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Director Martin Scorsese, HUGO

This year's Oscar race for Best Director features an especially strong roster. The five nominees are Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris," Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist," Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life," Alexander Payne for "The Descendants" and Martin Scorsese for "Hugo." Four of them did magnificent work this year, one of them less so, but in the end there will only be one winner.
  • By Ali Arikan & Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 10, 2012 7:46 AM
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  • 3 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: An Open Source Epic - Nina Paley's SITA SINGS THE BLUES

Adaptation and appropriation are important subtexts to Nina Paley’s award-winning animated epic, Sita Sings the Blues. Paley herself became a cause celebre among Fair Use activists seeking reforms to copyright law during her struggle to secure rights to jazz vocalist Annette Harshaw’s recordings. With this video essay, I look at how Paley took inspiration from both the tragic story of Sita in the Ramayana and Annette Harshaw’s bittersweet torch songs to deal with her own breakup, combining them to transform her personal suffering into art. In visualizing the legend of Sita, Paley incorporates traditional Indian and South Asian art forms that were themselves creative innovations on the source material at one point in history. In doing so, Paley plugs her work squarely into a cultural history too rich to be contained by digital rights restrictions, illustrating that true art is open to all.
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 10, 2012 2:06 AM
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  • 0 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Actress Viola Davis, THE HELP

Four out the five performances nominated for Best Actress are in part based on fulfilling audiences’ preconceived notions of what they should be. Both Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams do impersonations on the level of genius. Streep dares to make Margaret Thatcher seem all too human; Williams lets us look beyond Marilyn Monroe’s wiggle and teasing smile and see the insecurity, sadness and natural born talent that is required to be a star. Rooney Mara becomes a star by bringing to life one of popular literature’s most revered heroines in recent history. She allows us to feel the heat of Lisbeth Salander’s rage and burgeoning soul. Glenn Close pulls off a stunt that some actors believe is the ultimate test of their talent, be it Dustin Hoffman, Linda Hunt or Hilary Swank.
  • By Aaron Aradillas & Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 8, 2012 6:54 AM
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  • 14 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: PRESS PLAY picks the Oscars

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Press Play presents "Should Win," a series of video essays advocating winners in seven Academy Awards categories: supporting actor and actress, best actor and actress, best director and best picture. These are consensus choices hashed out by a pool of Press Play contributors.]  
  • By Press Play Staff
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  • February 7, 2012 6:21 AM
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  • 1 Comment

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Supporting Actress Janet McTeer, ALBERT NOBBS

Pretty much all of this year's Best Supporting Actress nominees are great, although a puking, pooping Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids "may not exactly be the stuff of Oscar dreams. Bérénice Bejo offers a charming modern take on a silent film ingenue-turned-star. Jessica Chastain especially can do no wrong as "The Help"'s Marilyn Monroe-style damsel in distress. And in that same film, Octavia Spencer offers a terrific steadying subversion as a maid who won't tow the line. But it is Janet McTeer who should take this award.
  • By Lisa Rosman and Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 7, 2012 5:38 AM
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  • 8 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer, BEGINNERS

Almost all the nominees for Best Supporting Actor do terrific work in roles that feel tailor-made to highlight their strengths. Kenneth Branagh's early work as director/star on stage and screen earned him comparisons to Laurence Olivier; he fulfills his destiny by actually playing Olivier in "My Week with Marilyn." Nick Nolte reminds us why he's one of the last great tough guys as the hard-ass recovering alcoholic father in Warrior. Jonah Hill gets the MVP award as a baseball-loving numbers cruncher in "Moneyball." And in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," Max von Sydow gives a master class in "less is more." But Christopher Plummer does something extra in "Beginners."
  • By Aaron Aradillas & Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 7, 2012 5:33 AM
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  • 3 Comments

FESTIVAL VIDEO: Rotterdam Sunset Chat with IndieWire Press Play + The House Next Door + Cine Qua Non

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has been called a cinephile’s festival. This year’s edition (January 25-February 5) is living proof. Indiewire/Press Play editor-in-chief Kevin Lee talks with fellow critics Aaron Cutler (The House Next Door/Cine Qua Non) and Michal Oleszczyk (The House Next Door) about what films to see, old and new, in and out of competition. Recorded February 1, posted February 3. (pictured above: Awakening of the Beast, from the IFFR series "The Mouth of Garbage")
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 2, 2012 8:03 AM
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  • 2 Comments

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