Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads

Michael Keaton as Riggan in Birdman
Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
And we’re back with the linking! Things got pretty busy the past few weeks, but everything is now caught up (almost) as we march on to the last week before the biggest night for the movies. Here are a few good reads from the Oscar beat, which is a bit slow since most writers are holding off casting their predictions until voting closes in this very competitive year, plus some links on Canadian content. Fifty Shades of Grey thinkpieces (yes, they exist) are politely excluded:

Off the Carpet: Less than a week to go, it's 'Birdman's' Oscar to lose
-Kris Tapley, InContention

Birdman or Boyhood? Birdman or Boyhood? Now that industry guilds have vastly weighed in favour of Birdman, but the Brits have favoured the American Boyhood, Kris Tapley thinks that this “unsettled” year just seems too iffy for the Boy to beat the ’man:

So I'm just left sort of wondering aloud, outside of critics, whose movie is "Boyhood?" If not the producers, the directors, the actors, the writers, with only the editors speaking up for it, where is the sense of wanting Richard Linklater's masterpiece to represent the industry? Across the pond, apparently, and I'm struggling with whether that's enough.

-Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

In an impassioned piece at AD, Sasha Stone responds to comments from one Academy member who reportedly won’t vote for Boyhood because it’s about “people who were ‘garbage’ and ‘losers’.” Perhaps she answers Tapley’s query of “whose movie” Boyhood may be:

 Boyhood spoke to me because much of my life was lived as a real life, raising a daughter on my own being the most fulfilling part of that life. I went through the abusive boyfriend who was my daughter’s father figure with the nice house in the Hollywood Hills, the 50K Mercedes and the hardcore drinking problem. I did it because I wanted to give her a better life than apartments with one bedroom and no natural sunlight. I figured it out at some point that being rich doesn’t make you a better person or more worthy in anyone’s eyes that matter. That doesn’t make me trash — it makes me human, yearning for a better life and struggling to get there.

-Phil Donohue, The Race (The Hollywood Reporter)

More thoughts on trash and treasure come from this essay on my favourite contender in the feature documentary race, Finding Vivian Maier. Journalist Phil Donohue recalls the time he employed Vivian Maier as a nanny, unawares that an unsung artist was living down the hall:

I remember Vivian taking a picture of the inside of a garbage can. I thought, "they laughed at Picasso." But I didn't ask Vivian how I could help her try to become a Picasso herself. She never offered to show her pictures, but like most of her employers, I never asked either.

-John Powers, Vogue

Laura Dern rules the award circuit. It’s hard to find an Oscar contender who is as articulate as Dern is. She’s great at situating her performance in Wild within the longevity of her career and the greater rewards of playing such challenging characters:

[Dern on Citizen Ruth]: I feel excited and proud as I look back that, in the moment when I was on the cover of a lot of magazines, I wanted to immerse myself in a very unattractive character. It would’ve been easy to think, I should be a bit careful about how I’m perceived or how I look, or I have this ad campaign contract that’s been offered and I don’t want to mess it up.  It’s lovely to be considered pretty and lovely to do photo shoots, and I just love fashion. But I’m proud that I did the characters I wanted to do.

-Scott Feinberg, THR

Best Picture is such a close race. The one race to watch before the final envelope is opened probably stands to be Best Original Screenplay, since it’s the one category besides Best Director in which the three potential Best Picture winners—Birdman, Boyhood, and dark horse The Grand Budapest Hotel—compete. But is this weekend’s precursor of the Writers Guild Awards a fair bellwhether?

It's not that the WGA, which these days is comprised of about 12,000 members (split between WGA-West and WGA-East), has a statistically poor track record of predicting Oscar winners in the writing categories. Indeed, in the years since the WGA honored the films of 1985, when it began evaluating dramatic and comedic scripts in one category, like the Academy, it has anticipated 20 of the 29 winners in both the adapted and the original categories, respectively.
The problem is why it missed on those nine occasions on both sides

-Paula Bernstein, Indiewire

I’m openly rooting for Laura Dern to win Best Supporting Actress, but I couldn’t be happier to see Patricia Arquette’s beautiful performance in Boyhood as the frontrunner.  Watch her chat with Indiewire about the twelve year process and getting to the heart of her character:

Arquette discusses how the story of the film unfolded despite the fact there was no script to read at the outset. "It was so much about stripping away the ego," explains the actress, about the process of becoming Mom.

-Charles Trapinski, Scene Creek

On the Canadian front, In Her Place opened in Toronto this week after winning raves on the festival circuit. Director Albert Shin sheds light on the powerful observation of his film in this five(ish) question chat:

I was kind of beating my head against a wall, not making many breakthroughs in terms of the story, and it took me a long time to write it. But I was in a restaurant in Korea, and there was a table kind of like right there, and like a big family, they were arguing over an absent family member’s pregnancy, and they were debating whether it was real or not. Half the table thought it was real, the other was saying “it’s not real, she’s faking it”.

-Prerana Das, Toronto Film Scene

Navigating the world of crowdfunding is a daunting and often overwhelming and infuriating process, but one project worth jumping aboard is the latest effort by  Toronto DIY film queen Ingrid Veninger with her live score film He Hated Pigeons:

He Hated Pigeons is a phantasmagorical film which will explore the borders of sexuality and sanity in the context of a varied landscape. This will be the fifth feature film by pUNK Films’ Ingrid Veninger, and it will be the first which has been on Indiegogo. Veninger, also known as Canada’s “DIY Queen of indie film,” founded pUNK Films with the attitude that nothing is impossible. (Donate here.)

-Andrew King, The Ottawa Citizen

While I’m growing tired of all the recent stuff that screams ‘yay, Ottawa!’ just for the sake of it, this straightforward local profile on Ottawan Eddie Brown makes an intriguing connection to the story behind Best Picture nominee The Imitation Game
Brown was ordered to keep his “lips sealed” about his job at the Farm, but since retiring in 1972, he has created a website dedicated to honouring his fellow code interceptors. Brown admits that of his Ottawa co-workers “I think I’m the last one still around.”

Brown’s code-breaking efforts under Project Ultra were recognized in 2010, when he received a certificate from Bletchley Park that he hangs on his wall: ‘In Recognition of Your Service at An Outstation.’

Video of the week:

Hello Wizard's David Cronenberg tribute.
(Hat tip: The Playlist.)

Any good reads you’d add to the list?