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An appropriately festive New Year’s Eve mash-up

“You Got Served” meet your new best friend, “Fiddler on the Roof”

Thanks to ACDPresents, a student somewhere I take it, and my friend Wes for turning me on to this one. L’chiam, everyone.

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A Roundtable Chat with actress Lesley Manville (“Another Year”)

A classic case of an “overnight success” who’s been working successfully for decades, Lesley Manville was just starting to be able to bask in the glow of a job extremely well done during the junket for “Another Year” last month. A few weeks later, the already simmering Oscar speculation around her performance in the latest film from maverick English director Mike Leigh got an early boost: she won the Best Actress award from the influential National Board of Review alongside a number of nominations elsewhere.

anotheryear-14

Lesley Manville began her career on the stage and British television, making her film debut with a minor role in Mike Newell’s 1985 melodrama, “Dance With a Stranger.” In 1988, she appeared in Mike Leigh’s worldwide breakthrough comedy, “High Hopes,” the first of six films so far with the director known for his uniquely collaborative approach. Notable roles in Leigh’s historically-based “Vera Drake” and “Topsy-Turvy” followed, along with numerous less well known films and television shows. It’s possible that she’s best known to the mass U.S. audience as Mrs. Cratchit from Robert Zemickis’ motion-capture “A Christmas Carol.”

In “Another Year,” Manville portrays Mary, a lonely and progressively more depressed alcoholic whose visits to the home of a contented therapist coworker (Ruth Sheen) and her husband (Jim Broadbent), become increasingly painful. It’s a powerful and all too real-seeming portrayal that has hit Manville’s career with enormous force.

Even without a huge number of awards, I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of Manville from now on. During the post roundtable chatter, I half jokingly suggested that she should work on her American accent, and she reminded me that she had just recently finished doing the very American play by John Guare, “Six Degrees of Separation.”

Things got a bit interesting late in this group interview, when one of the other writers present asked a question which Manville, perhaps stung by some past public discussion of her short-lived late 1980s marriage to Gary Oldman, deemed overly personal. With a little luck, Lesley Manville will have to deal with more prying from less from the press in years ahead.

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“Let Me In” — Best scene of 2010?

Richard Jenkins in This sequence about a murder that doesn’t go at all smoothly is certainly what popped into my mind when I saw that Salon’s Matt Zoeller Seitz was doing a series on his ten favorite scenes of the year. It does seem clear that Matt Reeves’ solid and beautifully acted “cover version” of the vampire-themed coming of age Swedish art house hit, “Let the Right One In,” “Let Me In” was the film most cruelly overlooked by audiences.

Matt is a filmmaker as well as critic, which is nice because what follows is his annotated version of the scene in question, which explains everything you need to know (and really doesn’t spoil anything at all about the film as a whole).

For more commentary on the movie and the scene from the ever-thoughtful-and-engaging Mr. Seitz, see the original post at Salon.

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Totally random movie moment #2

I know just how Bill McKay feels.

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Totally random movie moment #1

We’re deep, deep, deep, in the holiday doldrums as far as movie news and trailers go. Since I don’t feel like paying any attention whatsoever to Kevin Smith’s latest answer to the question “What is the stupidest possible way to react to some bad reviews?” that really leaves nothing to do but present Bruce Lee playing a game of death with Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

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“The Beauty of Pixar”

This has been making the rounds today. It’s a lovely piece of work by editor Leandro Copperfield, who spent 11 days watching all the Pixar films.

I’ve said it before, but Pixar is responsible for a simply unprecedented achievement in the history of mass entertainment. I can’t think of any filmmaker, or group of filmmakers, who have ever achieved this sustained level of consistent creativity, critical respect, and commercial success — all while having a distinctly human, even personal, stamp. Somebody needs to study what they’re up to closely. Clearly they’re doing something right that goes beyond simply the considerable talents of the individuals involved. Even the most greatest filmmakers so far have all made turkeys from time to time. Why not Pixar?

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Worried about unsightly zombies ruining your New Year’s?

I’m not saying this is brilliant, but considering that it kinda sorta combines the sensibilities of AMC’s two most popular shows right now, there’s clearly a market.

H/t to Shock ‘Till You Drop.

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Some slightly belated holiday and geek related thoughts from Hitler

My hurried blogging for today continues with two of those gosh-darned Hitler/”Downfall” videos I stumbled over. Yes, I never get enough of the things though I encourage you all to check the very serious actual film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and starring Bruno Ganz, with the correct subtitles

I like to think of these as yet one more delightful aspect of the world’s victory over Hitler and Nazism in 1945.

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Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

Leave it to Steven Moffat to take the annual “Doctor Who” Christmas special tradition and finally get it right. Given how adept the man is at penning this series at this point, this should probably come as no surprise, and yet, for me at least, it did. I’d learned over the years to set my expectations very low for these holiday outings due to Russell T. Davies’ mind-numbingly action-oriented yearly offerings. I do love Davies, but his Christmas stories always ranked pretty low for me, or rather I cut him and his holiday specials an immense amount of slack, as in interviews he was always going on about how most of the audience is drunk anyway, and are basically looking for mindless fare on Christmas night. So that was his approach and it worked well as far as the U.K. viewing figures were concerned it seems.

To be fair, they got better as they went along, with only the bloated disaster yarn, “Voyage of the Damned,” bucking that trend, although last year’s episode was barely even a Christmas tale, being the first half of “The End of Time” and all. More than anything else, though, what was most disappointing about Davies’ Christmas outings is how none of them ever became holiday traditions for me as a “Doctor Who” fan, which is pretty amazing since there were four to choose from. Indeed, the best Christmas tale the series had unveiled prior to this past Saturday night was Season One’s “The Unquiet Dead,” penned by Mark Gatiss, which of course wasn’t even a holiday special. As you’ll no doubt remember, “The Unquiet Dead” detailed the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose (Billie Piper) meeting Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) right before Christmas in 1869 Cardiff, and here we are, well over five years later, returning to Dickens once again, and once again we discover that Dickens and “Doctor Who” make for a potent combination.

At its start, “A Christmas Carol” alarmingly resembles a Davies-era holiday adventure, with a giant spaceship plummeting through the atmosphere towards the ground below. Honestly, I was scared at this point – not over the potential fate of Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), but that I was being set up for “Voyage of the Damned II.” But the story quickly shifts gears into far more character driven territory, as we move onto the surface below and meet the cantankerous Kazran Sardick, played by the great Michael Gambon. Most people equate Gambon with Dumbledore these days, and with good reason, because it’s the role he’s been seen in more than any other. Myself? I first became acquainted with the man 20 years ago via Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover,” in which he played the thoroughly despicable Albert Spica alongside Helen Mirren. His performance in that film is so perfect, playing such an awful man, that to this day it’s the role I still associate him with the most, and it was cool to see him return to that shouting, obnoxious type of character. It’s interesting to note the decision to give neither Gambon nor the other high profile guest star, Katherine Jenkins, billing in the opening credits, while Gillan and Darvill – neither of whom have an enormous amount of screen time during the hour – are credited at the top.

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Tuesday trailer: Natalie Portman is “The Other Woman”

Holiday frivolity and actual labor has me hellaciously hurried today, so the chatter will be minimal.

If John Cameron Mitchell’s upcoming “Rabbit Hole” doesn’t fulfill your acclaimed-yet-underrated-filmmaker dealing with a couple dealing with the death of a child needs, then here is Don Roos (“The Opposite of Sex”) taking on the topic in “The Other Woman.”


‘Other Woman’ Other Woman Trailer @ Yahoo! Video

H/t Deadline.

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