Monday, February 16, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about birds, happy people, idiots, "winners" and getting spanked!

It's Monday, and so far I'm keeping this up, so yay for me, right?  Anyways, this is a fun one.  Some great links for you guys today (assumed great, since I haven't read them yet) and some pretty great subjects to ponder.

Today also starts a special week here at A Fistful of Films...a week we're calling Dolan Appreciation Week.  Starting this afternoon, we're going to have a series of posts (spread out from today through Friday) that are in honor of Xavier Dolan's incredible talent.  No, he's not featured in today's Fistful of Thoughts, but that's merely because I'm saving all Dolan talk to...well...exclusive Dolan talk.

So be on the lookout for all that goodness.

Moving on...

I read this really awesome article about the filming of Birdman (I really hope this wins the Oscar on Sunday).  By now, even if you haven't seen the film, you've heard of the fact that it was all shot to look as if it was done in one take.  The seamless quality of the whole look and feel of the film is epic, really, and one of the most entrancing and dreamlike creations I've ever seen.  I was just spellbound by the epic imagery, to be completely honest.  In fact, reading the article and how they had the crew basically performing, as they put it, a ballet in order to get these shots and pacing just right makes me appreciate the cinematography, editing and direction of this masterpiece so much more.  MY GOD, I hope it sweeps Sunday.  It would be BEYOND deserving.

Now, I know that this is going to sound totally racist, but leave it to the Asians to propose marriage via a drone.  Yup, that's what happened when international beauty/actress Zhang Ziyi's boyfriend popped the question.  Musician Feng (married twice before) had the drone drop in on her birthday party, drop off the ring and then he dropped to one knee.  She obviously said yes (the pressure).

I love this girl, so I'm totally happy for her, even if her proposal sounds really stupid.

Moving on from someone we want to hug to someone we want to punch in the fucking face, let's talk about Emile Hirsch.  So. did y'all hear about what went down at Sundance?  Apparently Hirsch attacked Paramount's movie exec, Daniele Bernfeld, placing her in a chokehold.  This excerpt from the linked article is rather chilling:
Paramount movie exec Daniele Bernfeld claims "The Girl Next Door" star pulled her across a table onto the floor and landed on top of her, according to a police report obtained by the Daily News.  
Wrapping his hands around her throat, he then allegedly choked her so hard that she said it felt like the front and back of her throat were touching.  
Bernfeld later told police that everything seemed to go dark and she blacked out for a moment. Two partygoers eventually yanked the crazed actor off her, cops said. 
The confrontation took place after the actor asked Bernfield why she looked "so tough" and was a "rich kid" that didn't belong at Sundance, the report said.  
The "Into the Wild" star told authorities that he didn't know the women he was having an argument with and had been drinking.
Apparently, Hirsch is now in rehab, but WTF!  This guy is an idiot.  This will, as should be expected, ruin his career.  I'd be really surprised if we hear about him anytime soon, or ever again.  I mean, what's the last movie that he's done that anyone gave a fuck about anyways?  Into the Wild?  That was 2007.  There are many, many other actors who are his same age and talent level (which isn't really asking much) who could take any film role he could have been offered.

Goodbye Emile, it was unpleasant knowing you.

OK, now let's talk Berlin.  Now, I don't always follow every international awards festival, and really, the only one I've actually covered here on the blog was Cannes, but there is a certain movie and a certain performance I'm really excited about this year; namely Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years.  She just won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the festival, and this film is Andrew Haigh's follow up to the tremendous Weekend, so I'm really excited for this.

Here's the synopsis of the film:
There is just one week until Kate Mercer's 45th wedding anniversary and the planning for the party is going well. But then a letter arrives for her husband. The body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. By the time the party is upon them, five days later, there may not be a marriage left to celebrate.
I want this now.  The slate for Berlin also sounded incredible, with Malick, Herzog, Coixet and many other's showing their newest films there, and the reviews for some of these were ravishing.  You can check out the link above for the full list of winners.

And lastly, let's talk about 50 Shades of Grey.  I mean, who isn't talking about this movie?  Did you see this over the weekend?  I didn't.  My wife actually wanted to, but when do we ever really have time for the movies?  Anyways, I will admit that the trailer was kind of hot, but all this backlash over the subject matter has me turning my head.  I mean, there are organizations dedicated to raising awareness of domestic violence through the vocal bashing of this film, i.e. 50 Dollars, Not 50 Shades.  Now, I'll state again that I have not seen the film, and I have not read the books, but really people?  Domestic violence is not the same thing as bondage fetishes, and to say things like "most girls in this situation wind up dead" or whatever seems rather harsh.  Like, is this movie about an abusive boyfriend who beats on you because he's pissed?  I thought it was about getting off (you know, both parties) to whips and chains.  Have I been misled?

Because, seriously, if this movie is about domestic violence then the marketing team should be fired, and every middle-aged woman in America should have their head examined.



Here's What I'll Be Reading Today
Sati finally reviews Birdman!
Keven outlines last week for us in another Saturday Speaks.
Ruth delivers a list of her favorite films for every decade she's been alive.
Josh completes (for now) his CinSpec Awards for 2014!
Britt reviews Tusk!
Cindy speaks about Violence and Valentine's Day.
Birgit reviews Napoleon Dynamite!
Mettelray talks about 26 Movie Scenes from 26 Years.
Jeffery tells us his favorite non-2014 film discoveries made in 2014.
Alex, the king of Top Ten Lists, gives us 10 Performances by Bond Actors (in non-Bond roles).


  1. I'm with you on Birdman! I'm keeping everything crossed for it this Sunday :D
    Honestly, all the protesting surrounding 50 Shades has been crazy. I was going to avoid the cinema, but I'm going to watch it tonight, and it's thanks to these protesters because they've made me so darn curious! That'll p*ss them off no end, I'll bet, haha. I'm scared to review it though after the hate I've seen on other's blogs who reviewed it.
    - Allie

    1. I really hope Birdman just takes everything!

      And, LOL at the protesting backfiring and causing some to actually want to see the movie. I really hope you review it, even if you love it, like...that's what our blogs are for, to give OUR opinions of these movies. So what if everyone else gets so politically correct about everything :-P

      I want to read your review.

  2. That's very cool about Charlotte Rampling once again having a stand out role. I find it incredible after all these years and so many great performances she's never had a single Oscar nomination! Not even when she was a young IT girl in Georgy Girl and then she was passed over for both Under the Sand and Swimming Pool. At least this one is in English so that might increase her chances somewhat since foreign language performances already have a strike against them starting out.

    1. I'm pulling for her. It looks like a great role, and she's off to a great start with the Berlin win, but she won't campaign so unless she gets undeniable critics support, she will probably miss the cut to someone like Meryl Streep.

  3. Not that you will care about this particular complaint, but apparently there isn't even dick in Fifty Shades. You're going to make an erotic movie centered around BDSM and show no frontal nudity? Plus apparently it's Dakota (because of course it is) that is nude most of the time. That other dude gets to wear jeans or something. Come on.

    This thing with Emile Hirsch upsets me so much. I love that guy as an actor, and now he's just another d-bag. Uggghhh why? He's so talented!

    Thanks for the link. Viva Tusk! lol

    1. They could have him whip the girl for 15 minutes and nobody would say a word, but a dick shot would get it NC 17 or banned.

      MPAA, fuck yeah.

    2. MPAA has been messed up for years with what they consider needing of censorship. It's kind of a joke.

    3. Oh, and're a fan of Hirsch? I wasn't aware he had those :-P

    4. Sati -- exactly!!! To be fair, the MPAA -- as ridiculous as it is --is not entirely to blame. This kind of thinking is ubiquitous in the U.S. No one would blame me for exposing my kids to gratuitous violence with no redeeming social or artistic value, but I'm afraid to tell people I don't give a crap if they see some sex or nudity on screen (they might call Child Services). It is so sick and twisted.

    5. It really is a mess. I mean, I can see both sides and yet no sides. Like, raising kids is so fucking hard because the effect that entertainment has on them is so strong. Every kid is different too, and so you really have to know your kid before allowing them to be exposed to any of it.

      Violence is hard, because it's human to want to emulate what you see...and could go the same way.

      Now we have sex in our violence and that just leads to...

    6. I agree with what you said ... it's all about knowing your child, and either inappropriate sexuality or violence (or other things) could be harmful (or not) depending on the context, the kid's maturity, and a child's values and sensitivities. But, to me, the disparity, in the U.S., between concern about sexuality/language vs. violence sticks out dramatically. When my older daughter was about 12, Rain Man was her favorite movie. It earned an R rating for Tom Cruise's F-bombs and a mild sex scene (mostly awkward noises). Yet the body count can be racking up by the minute in a PG-13 action film.

      Sex mixed with violence in media is definitely a tricky -- and ugly -- issue. We discussed this subject (and studies on its possible effects) in a sexuality course I took in grad. school, and it's stuck with me. I don't try to shield my teens (ages 16 & 20) from this completely (especially since it is fairly ubiquitous and sometimes subtle). I do make a point of calling it out, when I see it, even if it's in an edgy joking way, if that makes sense. ($20 says the serial killer goes after the cutest blonde -- with the skimpiest attire -- first ...) This may sound kind of twisted, but -- as with many things -- I feel awareness and discussion usually have more value than censorship. Obviously, the age of the kids is a key point here.

      I definitely don't claim to be an expert in parenting (or anything else). I enjoy these discussions because ... well ... I think these conversations need to be happening, and I appreciate hearing various points of view.

    7. I feel you. I also feel like the skew towards shielding from a specific form of 'material deemed inappropriate' is off. I also believe that these discussions are really important, because they help us to examine our own stance and compare it to others. I also think that shielding, as a parent, can at times be more harmful that allowing children to find their own medium and merely being a cautious observer of their efforts, because too firm a stance against something can only cause a direct, and extreme, defiance.

      Sex is hard for me, mostly because I have young girls and as a father the last thing I want them to do is find their sexuality too young (or, like, ever) :-P

  4. Thanks for the link!

    I'm not comfortable talking about 50 shades because unlike you when I'm not familiar with something, I just don't comment, but it seems to me that the male protagonist is essentially stalking the girl and she succumbs to his kinky behavior. People can, and do, end up dead in scenarios like this one. If one party is weaker/brainwashed enough the reason for violence doesn't matter - it could start as kinky sex but it ends up being abuse.

    As for Hirsch - we'll see. Penn raped and beat up Madonna and he has 2 Oscars. People are way too forgiving when A MAN fucks up.

    1. Don't think I didn't catch the shade there :-P

      Well, I was legit asking about 50 Shades. I was under a different impression, and if that is the case then, yes, there's a problem there.

      And as far as Hirsch is concerned, the difference is that Penn was actually a star, and people respected his talent. No one cares about Hirsch at all. He has never really had a true breakout moment. Even Into the Wild came and went and no one remembers him for it. He could disappear right now and no one would care.

      BUT, you're right about the double standard with men and women. I mean, remind me again why Winona Rider isn't a HUGE star with multiple Oscar nominations and even a win under her belt. Oh yeah, because she shoplifted 20 years ago and had to pay for her crimes. Ridiculous.

    2. It's just slightly....odd for me when people comment on something before they read it or at least familiarize themselves with it. It's like that bunch of people hating Kristen Stewart without seeing a single Twilight movie. I'm sure it's possible 50 shades sucks and deserves all the criticism but I'd not make statements regarding the nature of the story if I didn't at least read a bit about it.

      Was Penn really that big of a star in 80's though? And since people don't care about Hirsch, less people will know about this than about what Penn did.

      It's not just Winona. Even someone like Lindsey Lohan or Britney Spears - their careers are pretty much beyond recovery while Charlie Sheen still makes millions.

    3. Well, I was commenting on the hoopla, which I have read about, not the source. I was asking for other's thoughts. I think everyone has opinions on everything, and I won't ever read the book and I most likely won't be seeing the film (like, at least not anytime soon) but I was legitimately taken aback by the press it was getting over this. The subject has been talked about for so long now that I was under a very different impression as the to core story line, which is why the abuse accusations left me perplexed. I don't see anything odd about bringing that up for discussion...

      With regards to the Hirsch/Penn comparison, you could be right about the timing of things. Penn's big break as a star really didn't come through until the early 90's. Still, I don't think Hirsch has the talent or connections to live this down, but that's only my opinion.

      The double standard though, is disgusting.

    4. I've read the book (half of it) and saw the movie so I can comment away and say that it's all just blown out of proportion. The whole movie, the whole topic, everything. The book btw sounds a hundred times worse because it has him monitoring her eating and so on, but the movie never goes into that kind of domination. HE wants to dominate her in the bed room, she has no idea what she wants because she is a virgin.. the whole thing is pretty low key and as far as I know, the dominant / submissive relationships that are actually out there would be far more out there than in Fifty.

      I'll write a review soon, but I'm hesitant about it because people hate it more than they should in my opinion. The movie was better than the book but still crap, so considering the source material was the stupidest thing in the world, the movie actually succeeded in something - improving the book.

      Thanks for the link!

    5. Thanks for clearing all that up. I hope you do review it. It's sad that the hate for this movie is so strong it's causing bloggers to actually fear reviewing it in a more positive light. I think they're are room for all sorts of opinions when it comes to film, so go for it!

  5. Emile Hirsch is a washed-up choad. Agreed on Birdman. I will not be disappointed if it takes every damn award it's up for, even though I would love for Wes Anderson to get some love. Berlin seems to have some good shiz this year. Looking forward to being pissed off by the new Malick. 50 Shades, man. It's like alcohol. The drug of the masses because they say it's allowed. Thanks for the link!

    1. I'm really hopeful of Knight of Cups. It looks beautiful (although, I think we had this discussion already about the fact that he needs to us a new style of DP because 'pretty shot' after 'pretty shot' is getting old) and the cast is incredible, so I'm hoping that it's better than that tree of conundrum and that awful To the Wonder crap.

  6. Thanks so much for the link Drew!

    I REALLY hope Birdman wins too! That single-take technique is still so rare and it was beautifully-done.

    Hey I’m Asian, not all of us are crazy like Ziyi’s boyfriend ;-) I’d say she should send the drone in on her wedding night, that’ll serve him!

    Oh geez, that’s nuts what happened at Sundance w/ Hirsch. I honestly don’t even know him much as an actor, but sounds like he’s just another nutcase that belongs in rehab.

    Charlotte Rampling is a goddess, oh ’45 Years’ sounds heartbreaking!

    Oh let’s NOT talk about Fifty Shades, I’m so bored w/ it already and wish it’d go away.

    1. You're so welcome, and I hope you know my comment was totally meant in jest :-D

      Hirsch can disappear tomorrow and no one would care, like at all.

      I can't wait for 45 Years. It's shot up to the top of my most anticipated of the year list!!!

    2. Ahah yeah I know you're just kidding, no worries :D

      I really like Rampling, she just seems to be more beautiful w/ age. Have you seen Night Train to Lisbon? I'm about to review that for another blog and she has a small part there but she adds so much to the film. The main star is Jeremy Irons whom I also love.

    3. No I haven't seen it, I haven't even heard of it!

      Something else to add to my Netflix queue :-)

  7. You come up with the best. post titles. ever. I haven't read or seen 50 Shades, and I'd only see the movie for the sake of unintentional humor. But word on the street is that it does not represent the BDSM lifestyle at all -- its an abusive relationship with kinky sex. Not the same thing at all.

    I have mixed feelings about the controversy. On the one hand, I feel controversy lends it way more attention than it deserves. On the other hand, I do believe that blurring the line between "hard core" erotica and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of women is dangerous and needs to be called out.

    I'm hoping to see Birdman tonight. I can't wait! :-)

    1. First, so happy you'll be seeing Birdman!!!!

      Second, I was not really aware of the gist of 50 Shades, which is why I asked. It's marketed as something much different, and so I was confused as to why it was getting drawn into such a strong debate. If what you're saying is the case, then this is just gross. Like...WTF?

    2. It was clear to me, from the tone of your post, that you were honestly asking for information or perspective and inviting honest discussion. :-)

      As I said, I avoided the books based on "reviews" from friends and acquaintances. -- I find gratuitous bad writing to be obscene. :-) So I don't officially have an opinion. But I have heard and read this from enough sources that I consider it solid information.

      Unless there's something I am not aware of, I can't fathom why so many women seem to dig this book, which sold millions (though I have no idea how many of those readers actually finished it.) I respect BDSM fantasies and the like, even though it doesn't appeal to me in the least. Anything between consenting adults and all that ...

      But just watching the preview (which my son J. and I saw when we watched American Sniper at our one theater here in Podunk, Virginia) ... Egads! The guy came across as such an arrogant, condescending asshole and the girl presented herself as so passive and mindlessly adoring. And they're presenting that in an unexamined fashion and packaging it as fodder for sexual fantasies? WTF indeed.

      The same story, told in a very different way, so the reader/viewer reflects on what she's seeing and on the mentality of a society that pimps it out as "mommy porn" ... now THAT could be eye-opening.

    3. I'm kind of digging that last paragraph/idea. It could be very interesting indeed.

      And from the excerpts that I've read of the book, the writing is truly atrocious. LOL, I have a male friend who read it for shits and giggles and said it's the absolute worst thing he's ever read.

    4. When I heard the writing was a cut below Twilight, my brain exploded on the spot.

  8. Drones.... don't like them and don't have any need for them.

    Emile Hirsch.... you lost me. Sorry but... you will never... e-e-e-e-ever be in my films. No sex with Scarlett Johansson for you!!!!

    I'm eager to see 45 Years as I definitely liked Weekend a lot. Plus, I still want to see the new Malick no matter how polarizing the reviews were.

    Fifty Shades of Grey... unless there's some women out there that wants to pay me to see it if she plans on giving me a handjob or something more.... I have no intentions of seeing it in theaters.

    1. LOL, I'm with you on drones. I don't understand this current fascination with them.

      I want that new Malick SO BAD! I can't wait for 45 looks like an amazing story.

      50 Shades (if the wife drags me to it) better get me at least a handjob ;-P

  9. Ok this Emile Hirsch will be the next guy on Dr. Drew. The sad thing is he will get off (not talking 50 Shades yet) and continue on his downward spiral. I can't even place his face so he will be a memory know...:) As for 50 Shades of Grey...there are some films that I am proud to say I have never seen and don't plan to and this is one of them. It is not for the content because things like that don't shock me and if it is done well, it can add to the story. I just feel that this movie will be predictable and, well, suck. I read excerpts from the book and laughed at the crap. Have you ever picked up a Harlequin Romance? The themes are usually the same-a woman who is independent yet can be innocent is drawn to a man, usually ruggedly handsome and rich who is arrogant and she is aghast at his style but is strangely drawn to him. The middle parts are blah, blah but in the end they are together and happy. Now I don't know how it ends up in this flick but it seems to be about the same plot but you just add in that he dominates her and she loves it and is intrigued and they have some nasty sex all over the place probably with whip cream somewhere in the mix...and honey and blah blah blah. I just think of all the washing they have to do after this sex, not only themselves but all the bed sheets.

    1. HAHAHA! I love that last bit, about the washing! Only married people think of that stuff. The movies make sex look so glamorous, and then your wife looks at you and says "you know how long it'll take me to clean up afterwards" and you know that it just isn't going to 'go there'.

    2. Yes you are right but when one is in the mood who wants to light 5,000 candles and get all the whip cream and other stuff out. The last thing I am thinking about is a silly candle:)

  10. Oh craps-Thank you for mentioning me here-that was sweet

  11. Thanks for the link man! :)

    Birdman's cinematography is astounding. I could actually see the film winning 7 Oscars if voters really love it. It won't, but it totally could.

    That proposal is a bit too elaborate.

    It's a shame Hirsch just squandered any potential he could reach after Into the Wild.

    45 Years looks SO GOOD!

    I can't with 50 Shades. It just looks so bad, even if it is laughably so.

    1. You're very welcome, my friend!

      Yeah, I currently am of the opinion that it's going to take five, but this year seems tighter than normal, right?

      LOL, poor Ziyi.

      I've never been a fan of Hirsch, except for in Milk, so I'm ok with him going away forever.

      I know, right!

      LOL, I'm probably destined to see watch out for that review ;-)