Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Why Courtney Love Asked Brett Morgen to Film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck': “I wanted someone to tell the truth" Why Courtney Love Asked Brett Morgen to Film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck': “I wanted someone to tell the truth" 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) 'Far From the Madding Crowd' Then and Now: Can Carey Mulligan Top the 1967 Julie Christie Film? 'Far From the Madding Crowd' Then and Now: Can Carey Mulligan Top the 1967 Julie Christie Film? Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Stunning 'James White,' Starring Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon, Heads for Awards Season Stunning 'James White,' Starring Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon, Heads for Awards Season Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work Time 100 Highlights, from Bradley Cooper to Emma Watson Time 100 Highlights, from Bradley Cooper to Emma Watson Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein

Awards Circuit: AFI FEST 'Out of the Furnace' Review, BAFTA Britannia Awards to Clooney & Elba, Thompson & Penn Sing 'Mary Poppins' (VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 10, 2013 at 7:38PM

Awards season is in full swing with the AFI Fest world premiere of "Out of the Furnace" (review), BAFTA Britannia awards for Clooney and Elba, Emma Thompson and Sean Penn singing the "Mary Poppins" songbook and more.
1
Julia Roberts and George Clooney
Julia Roberts and George Clooney

The toughest thing about filmmakers who aim for the fences is that when they miss, they are not patted on the back for trying. More often, their agents, managers and folks supposedly looking out for their best interest will say, "See, this is what happens when you follow your heart. Next time make something commercial."

'Out of the Furnace' lineup at AFI Fest
'Out of the Furnace' lineup at AFI Fest

Saturday night at AFI FEST writer-director Scott Cooper, three years after his career skyrocket launch with "Crazy Heart," which earned singer/actor Jeff Bridges an Oscar, unveiled the world premiere of his sophomore film "Out of the Furnace." For this Virginia-born filmmaker, this movie is personal; his grandfather was a coal miner, they hunted deer together, and Cooper lost a sister very young.  

The filmmaker has chops: this hardboiled Pennsylvania Appalachia noir (a total overhaul of Brad Inglesby's black-listed original "The Low Dweller") is elegantly shot by cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi ("Silver Linings Playbook," "The Grey"), with a lushly emotional score by "Winter's Bone" composer Dickon Hinchliffe. 

The film is impeccably acted by a superb ensemble who give heartfelt, delicate performances, especially Christian Bale and Casey Affleck as brothers Russell and Rodney Baze, respectively. Russell is a factory welder anchored by his deep love for a young teacher (Zoe Saldana), Rodney is a troubled vet who takes his aggression into the ring for bouts of rough-and-tumble fighting. Underutilized as women often are in these male-centric dramas, Saldana is terrific. She and Bale show palpable chemistry; when circumstances conspire to push them apart, it hurts. We like these characters, and except for Woody Harrelson's too-familiar bad-ass criminal, want them to thrive. 

Harrelson and Bale face off in "Out of the Furnace."
Harrelson and Bale face off in "Out of the Furnace."

While trade reviewers Scott Foundas (review here) and Todd McCarthy (here) are upbeat, and In Contention's Kris Tapley touts Bale's performance, this Relativity film is unlikely to break out with audiences or awards voters. First, it would need a strategically perfect release--Relativity did not take the film to fall festivals, partly to save money and also because it wanted to build buzz just ahead of going wide--after weak research previews--on December 6. Also "out of the Furnace" strikes some as a tad pretentious and lacking that special something that would lend it must-see status. During his introduction to the film, Relativity chief Ryan Cavanaugh said, "You're going to need a drink after this movie." 

No matter how gorgeously wrought, with a movie this unremittingly dark, with no ray of light, it has to deliver something we've never seen before. Cooper admits that he was heading for a realistic, violent rural family drama much like Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter." He didn't reach it. In fact, Denis Villeneuve gets closer to the mark with his well-reviewed kidnap drama "Prisoners," which despite well-calibrated support from Warner Bros., has struggled at the box office. But Cooper deserves praise for aiming high. We need filmmakers to keep striving and not play it safe. ("Out of the Furnace" trailer below.)

Also at the AFI, on Friday, David O. Russell unveiled six minutes of his much-anticipated 70s dramedy "American Hustle" (our report is here). And over at the Directors Guild of America, James Cameron did the interviewing honors for friend Alfonso Cuaron after a members-only screening of "Gravity." Cameron gave Cuaron considerable support during the four-year prep for the complex 3-D epic space adventure, which required the invention of new visual effects technology. 

This article is related to: Awards, Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Oscars, BAFTA, Out of the Furnace, Reviews, Reviews, Festivals, AFI, AFI Fest, George Clooney, George Clooney, George Clooney, Saving Mr. Banks, Christian Bale, Christian Bale, Scott Cooper, Scott Cooper, Alfonso Cuaron


E-Mail Updates