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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Deborah Vankin

Oscars 2012: 'Undefeated' filmmakers say sorry for the F-bomb

February 26, 2012 |  8:32 pm


The makers of “Undefeated,” which won the Oscar for documentary feature Sunday, may have gotten off to a rocky start when accepting their Academy Awards on stage: They dropped the F-bomb, for starters, were bleeped out and their speech was cut off at 45 seconds. But Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin and Richard Middlemas were charming, if a bit apologetic, backstage.

“It wasn’t the classiest thing,” admitted Martin. “But it did come from the heart.”

Their film about an inner-city football team at Manassas High School in North Memphis, Tenn., had a good deal of heart as well. Lindsay said they’d wanted to dedicate the award, when accepting it, to the community of North Memphis, but they’d gotten cut off prematurely.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

“It was heartbreaking,” said Lindsay. “Because we wouldn’t be here without them.”

“We can’t thank the community of North Memphis enough,” added Martin.

The team at Manassas High is all black; volunteer coach Bill Courtney is white. Martin said the film wasn’t initially meant to make a pointed political or social statement, but he’s pleased it’s sparked discussion of such issues. “When we got there and saw race and class was not an issue for the coach and volunteer players, for us, it was not our duty to bring that element into it if it wasn’t an element for them. But that said, the whole point of it was to elicit and inspire a conversation about race and class."

Lindsay threw effusive shout-outs to all the other nominated films in the documentary category; backstage, he credited the win in part to current filmmaking technology. “It’s partly because of the technology — you can tell stories you couldn’t tell before,” he said. “And people are clamoring for something genuine. I think we’re sick of manufactured.”


Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Kenneth Turan reviews 'Undefeated'

'Undefeated' is a provocative look at race and class in sports

— Deborah Vankin

Photo: Coach Bill Courtney and star lineman O.C. Brown figure in "Undefeated." Credit: Dan Lindsay/TJ Martin/ The Weinstein Co.

Sinead O'Connor performs at 'Albert Nobbs' soundtrack release party

January 7, 2012 |  1:32 pm


Friday night, at a cocktail party celebrating the release of the “Albert Nobbs” soundtrack, Glenn Close, Sinead O’Connor and Irish composer Brian Byrne might have seemed an unlikely grouping. Close was well-coiffed in a tailored slacks and heels; O’Connor, barefoot, wore a floor-length black coat that revealed colorful chest tattoos; and Byrne, a self-described relative “newcomer” to A-list Hollywood circles, looked a bit star struck. 

But, in fact, the trio was in perfect harmony.

Close elegantly hosted the 100 or so guests –- mostly music executives, film producers and personal friends -- over caviar and tuna tartare appetizers at West Hollywood’s Palihouse. Byrne entertained the crowd with a piano performance. But the highlight of the affair, held by the Irish Film Board and Varese Sarabande Records, was undoubtedly O’Connor’s live performance of the film’s theme song, a melancholic Irish “lullaby” called “Lay Your Head Down.” 


As O’Connor belted out the tune, with Steve Erdodie playing cello and Jennifer Curtis the violin, Close stood nearby with tears in her eyes. Not only does she star in “Nobbs” as a cross-dressing waiter circa 1890s, she also co-produced the movie, co-wrote the script and penned the lyrics for Byrne’s theme song, which O’Connor recorded for the film. It has since received a Golden Globe nomination.

So O’Connor’s performance Friday night was particularly meaningful for Close. “She has this extraordinary quite ethereal voice,” Close said, beaming.

Byrne, for his part, is particularly proud of Close’s lyrics. He said he composed the song shortly after his father had passed away, which largely inspired the song’s moody, heartfelt tone. But, hard as he tried, he couldn’t get the lyrics right. “Glenn knew every character inside and out. I said ‘Why don’t you write the lyrics?’ and she jumped at the chance,” Byrne said. “She brought another dimension to the score with these words that I could never write, and I think they’re really, really great. In essence, it’s made Albert live beyond the movie.”

To O’Connor, the song summons a key theme of the movie: “Just the idea of having someone who you can really be yourself with," she said, "reveal yourself, and they’ll accept you for who you are.” 

To hear the song, check out the video below:

-- Deborah Vankin


Top photo: Sinead O'Connor performs "Lay Your Head Down" at Palihouse.  Credit: Deborah Vankin

Bottom photo: Glenn Close hosts the "Albert Nobbs" soundtrack party. Credit: Deborah Vankin

Breakfast gets interesting -- 'Albert Nobbs' exclusive clip

January 4, 2012 | 11:42 am

"Albert Nobbs" stars Glenn Close as a middle-aged sexual innocent who masquerades as a man to secure employment as a waiter in poverty-stricken 19th century Ireland. Quiet and withdrawn, Albert has been leading a double life, taping down her breasts and dressing as a man for so long she's lost touch with who she once was. British actress Janet McTeer plays Albert's confidant, Hubert Page, a lesbian secretly living in domestic bliss with the love of her life.

Based on the short story by 19th century Irish writer George Moore, the movie represents the culmination of a 30-year artistic odyssey for Close, one that netted her both Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations. She not only plays the title character (as she did in an Obie Award-winning off-Broadway production in 1982), she also co-produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Irish novelist John Banville and Gabriella Prekop. She even penned the lyrics for the movie's theme song.

Though the film has crossing-dressing woman at its center, Close told The Times the film is not about gender politics, but rather the universal quest for human connection.

"It's not a story about lesbianism,” Close said. “For Albert, it's about survival; it's only about sexual identity in that she has none."

Still, “Albert Nobbs” is rife with double entendres and gender play. In this exclusive clip from Roadside Attractions, Albert brings the heavy-drinking house doctor, played by Brendan Gleeson, his morning “eye-opener.”  The two “men” share a private moment -- could Albert be considering taking a wife?

--Deborah Vankin



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