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Friday Night Cocktails and Docs

by Anne Thompson
December 5, 2009 8:36 AM
9 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Friday I interviewed It's Complicated writer-director Nancy Meyers by phone, Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner by Flip Cam, and went to a Paramount Lovely Bones cocktail party at the Four Seasons. There I talked to Stanley Tucci and photographed him with Peter Jackson, who I will talk to later this weekend. Then I ran off to the International Documentary Awards, which were taking place at the same time as the first screening of Avatar (Arrggh) for the Hollywood Foreign Press. Word on the street at the IDA party: Avatar's a 161-minute movie with fab visual effects and adolescent story. I won't see it until the 10th, alas.

Thompson on Hollywood

The announcement of the IDA winners was posted online at 8 PM PST, just as the ceremony was beginning. The big winner was Sacha Gervasi’s Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which won both music and best feature awards (the full list of winners is at indieWIRE.com), but did not make the Oscar short list. "We are living proof that dreams do come true," said drummer Rob Reiner.

Here's my impromptu low-light interview with Anvil:


Find more videos like this on AnneCam

Thompson on Hollywood

Host Ira Glass helped to keep things moving through a long night of earnest sincerity. "We're bombarded by stories like no people who have ever lived," he said, on the internet, radio, TV. "Watching documentaries, you see how rare it is with most stories we consume to enter the lives of complete strangers so deeply and intimately."

As Stanford student Peter Jordan accepted an award for The First Kid to Learn English from Mexico, Glass quipped, "I was 19 when I started making documentaries. I hope he's ready for a life where you don't make much money."

Philip Glass paid tribute to achievement award winner Errol Morris, for whom he composed three of his best scores, for The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time and The Fog of War. "He's been vilified and glorified. What more can an artist hope for?" asked Glass, revealing that Morris dropped out of Julliard and still plays the cello. "With Errol there's a lot of heavy lifting. When I get a call from Errol I'm always ready to go. No one works harder. He sets the bar very high. And sets it just as high for you. At that point there's only one way to go. Up."

Author of the indie filmmakers bible, Clearance & Copyright, attorney Michael Donaldson earned rousing applause accepting the Amicus Award for his many hours of pro bono work on behalf of indie filmmakers, fighting for fair use. "I do this work because documentary filmmakers are my hero," he said. "Documentary filmmakers are the truth tellers today."

9 Comments

  • Martin | December 8, 2009 12:13 AMReply

    Adolescent does not necessarily mean bad. Terminator 2 would be regarded as adolescent- boy befriends cyborg and things blow up! Star Wars is adolescent- Action romp in space. Avatar hopefully will be a mix of well told dramatic story with all the elements required of an action blockbuster. If anyone is capable of striking this balance it's Cameron!

  • Remy | December 6, 2009 7:01 AMReply

    This is hilarious. We're all desperate to find out what the buzz on "Avatar" is, and the only comment we get is completely vague and ambiguous.

    I'm a big admirer of Cameron's, and the movie is obviously skillfully made. What worries me is that, in all the years this project has been talked about, the only thing everyone involved has focused on is its revolutinary use of 3D. They've developed this new technology, and we're all supposed to be excited just about that.

    I've personally never seen a 3D movie that was better for being in 3D - in fact, the image quality, with its dimmed colors and blurry edges, always seems to suffer more than it benefits from it. If the 3D in this film does look as amazing as Cameron wants us to believe, then that's great, but the movie needs a good story to resonate with audiences, and certainly the Academy. "The Jazz Singer" is an important and revolutionary movie, but how many people do you know who count it among their favorites?

    "Adolescent" might be the kind of thing that can be a big box office success, but it's not something that gets a lot of admiration from the critics, or a Best Picture nomination. I pay closer attention to a movie's technical aspects than most audience members, but I need more than photo-real motion capture and impressive 3D to fall in love with a movie.

  • John | December 5, 2009 8:18 AMReply

    So Anne, is the word "adolescent" a good or bad thing in that statement?

  • Mark | December 5, 2009 6:30 AMReply

    I guess a classic coming-of-age adventure story that has enthralled mankind for generations is now referred to as an 'Adolescent story'.

    Meanwhile, Anne Thompson raves over the Twilight Saga and Star Trek...

  • Jordan Raup | December 5, 2009 4:06 AMReply

    Avatar was confirmed to be 161 minutes: http://marketsaw.blogspot.com/2009/12/avatar-161-minutes.html

    Is it not?

  • Marco | December 5, 2009 1:56 AMReply

    There goes my dream of a good Avatar story :(

  • Tsn | December 5, 2009 1:42 AMReply

    OH NO. Its ADOLESCENT!!!!!
    FIRST NEGATIVE REVIEW!

  • Jon | December 5, 2009 1:19 AMReply

    As cc said. It would be great to know more about Avatar. Adolescent as in "fun and playful" like Star Trek or "immature and stupid" like Transformers 2? Did you get the impression that this film out of the running?

    Cheers,
    Jon

  • cc | December 5, 2009 12:40 AMReply

    "Avatar‘s a 141-minute movie with fab visual effects and adolescent story. I won’t see it until the 10th, alas."

    Is this a negative or positive statement?

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