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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Patton Oswalt

Around Town: Oscar fever hits the Academy, American Cinematheque

February 23, 2012 |  6:00 am

"Puss in Boots"

With the Academy Awards on Sunday evening, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the American Cinematheque are presenting seminars and symposiums leading up to the big event.  

Patton Oswalt, who provided the voice of Remy in the Oscar-winning "Ratatouille" from 2007, is the host of the 2011 animated feature film nominees program at the academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Thursday evening. The nominees, schedule permitting, will be on hand to discuss their creative process and show clips from their films.

Saturday morning’s offering is the ever popular seminar featuring the foreign-language film nominees hosted by Mark Johnson, an Oscar-winning producer and the foreign-language film award committee chair. The event is sold out, but there will be a standby line. Later that afternoon is the sold-out program with the makeup nominees, hosted by Makeup Artists and Hairstylists branch governor Leonard Engelman. http://www.oscars.org

On Saturday morning, the Cinematheque’s Egyptian presents a free “Invisible Art, Visible Arts Oscar-nominated Editors Seminar.” The event is first come, first served. The Oscar-nominated art directors seminar follows in the afternoon. The nominees are all expected to attend both of these, schedule permitting.

The American Cinematheque’s “Once Upon a Time: The Films of Sergio Leone” features his last and most underrated spaghetti western, 1971’s “Duck, You Sucker,” Thursday evening at the Egyptian Theatre. Also known as “A Fistful of Dynamite,” the film finds peasant Rod Steiger and Irishman James Coburn embroiled in the Mexican Revolution. Poorly received when released 41 years ago, the film has gained in respect and popularity over the decades.

Henry Fonda plays one of his most ruthless characters in Leone’s 1968 masterpiece, “Once Upon a Time in the West,” which features an opening sequence that has influenced countless directors over the years, including Quentin Tarantino. Jason Robards, Claudia Cardinale, Woody Strode and Charles Bronson also star.

Saturday’s offering at the Egyptian is Martin Scorsese’s landmark 1976 thriller, “Taxi Driver,” starring Robert DeNiro, as a loner Vietnam vet, Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd and Albert Brooks.  “Taxi Driver,” penned by Paul Schrader, was nominated for a feature film Oscar but Scorsese surprisingly failed to earn a nomination.

 The Cinematheque’s “Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata and the Masters of Studio Ghibli’ concludes Wednesday at the Egyptian with Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 anime delight, “Castle in the Sky.”

The Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre kicks off the weekend Thursday evening with Woody Allen’s dark and often funny 1989 film, “Crimes and Misdemeanors," then the Coen brothers' first film, the 1984 film noir, “Blood Simple." Friday evening the Cinematheque looks at the filmmakers of tomorrow with the 5th annual Screen Student Film Festival, which features the best short films made by Southern California teenagers. The Aero celebrates the 110th anniversary of Georges Melies’ landmark “A Trip to the Moon” — the restored color version — Saturday evening. “Moon” is followed by the new documentary “The Extraordinary Voyage,” directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange. It's about the immense, painstaking restoration work on the Melies’ classic.

And on Wednesday, director Jim  Hemphill and actress Lea Thompson discuss their film, “The Trouble With Truth,” which also stars John Shea. http://www.americancinematheque.com

The New Beverly Cinema features two films from the eclectic Wes Anderson on Thursday evening: 2004’s “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” and 2007’s “The Darjeeling Limited.” Friday's and Saturday’s offerings are Alfred Hitchcock’s terrific 1940 thriller, “Foreign Correspondent,” which earned a best film Oscar nomination, and the rarely seen 1943 “Journey Into Fear,” with Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Dolores del Rio. Friday’s midnight movie offering is 2010’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Saturday’s is 1985’s “Silver Bullet.” The Monday-to-Wednesday programming includes two documentaries: 2011’s “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975” and 2010’s “!Women Art Revolution.”

UCLA Film & Television Archive’s “Nina Menkes: Cinema as Sorcery” series continues Friday evening at the Billy Wilder Theater with two shorts: 1986’s “Magdalena Virage” and 1981’s “A Soft Warrior.” Menkes is scheduled to appear in person. The archive’s “Kino-Eye: The Revolutionary Cinema of Dziga Vertov” also continues Saturday at the Wilder with the West Coast premiere of the new restoration of Vertov’s 1929 film, “Man With a Movie Camera.” Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the archive, will be on hand to discuss the film. Monday evening’s entry in UCLA’s lengthy Spencer Tracy retrospective is the 1939 Technicolor adventure “Northwest Passage,” directed by King Vidor and also starring Robert Young.

And UCLA’s Wednesday evening programming at the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles features two from the Master Showman, William Castle: 1964’s “Strait-Jacket” with Joan Crawford and 1961’s “Homicidal.” http://www.cinema.ucla.edu

The Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre presents the kitty circus: "The Acro-Cats,” which Cinefamily states are well treated and well-loved felines, and a screening of the 1965 Disney classic “That Darn Cat” with Hayley Mills on Monday evening, followed Wednesday by Harry Smith’s 1957 animated “Heaven and Earth Magic.”  http://www.cinefamily.org

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby star in the 1946 musical comedy “The Road to Utopia,” showing Tuesday afternoon at  the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Leo S. Bing Theater. http://www.lacma.org


"Movie Review: 'Puss in Boots'"

"'Rango': On the trail of animation's outlaw future?"

—Susan King

Photo: "Puss in Boots" is nominated for an Academy Award for best animated film. Credit: DreamWorks Animation.

Oscars 2012: Comics on why Billy Crystal rocks the Academy Awards

February 9, 2012 |  1:13 pm

Billy Crystal at the 2004 Oscars
With Billy Crystal set to host this year’s Academy Awards, a sense of dread over the show's prospects has been lifted: With eight previous telecasts under his belt, Crystal is considered to be the consummate Oscar host.

Of course, as fellow comic Paul Rodriguez notes, familiarity is a good thing in awards host jobs: “Everybody in the business is watching,” he says. “It’s the Super Bowl of show business. He’s safe.”

It’s also necessary, says comic Tom Papa, to be able to have experience with a difficult audience, as comics often do: “As the night goes on, four out of five people in that audience are losers, and disappointed. Halfway through that show you have a very tough crowd to make laugh.”

PHOTOS: Billy Crystal at the Oscars

And you have to be fast on your feet. “It’s not like you can take ad lib classes," adds Patton Oswalt, costar of “Young Adult” and host of three ceremonies himself this awards season. "Someone can’t train for the Oscars. You’d better have been doing the training for decades before you ever get there, or it’s going to be bad.” See the full story on what else the comedians have to say about Crystal.

Throughout his previous appearances, Crystal has proved to be fast on the draw, able to pick up on unexpected failures (technological and human) and completely willing to look ridiculous in pursuit of the laugh. Whether being wheeled out on a dolly as Hannibal Lecter, having a conversation with Yoda or letting us know what’s really on Judi Dench’s mind mid-show, Crystal makes the whole hosting gig look easy. Given his track record -- view some highlights below -- this year should be no different.

Billy as Hannibal Lecter (1992): After being wheeled onstage wearing the face guard from “The Silence of the Lambs,” Crystal heads straight for that night’s eventual lead actor winner, Anthony Hopkins (who played the cannibalistic Lecter) and says, “I’m having some of the academy over for dinner. Care to join me?”

Billy in the Movies (1997): Classic example of Crystal as a character in several of the films being celebrated, plus a little song and dance.

Billy the Psychic (2000): Billy lets the audience in on “What the Stars are Thinking.”


PHOTOS: Billy Crystal at the Oscars

With Billy Crystal hosting, have the Oscars given up on youth?

— Randee Dawn

Photo: Host Billy Crystal at the 2004 Oscar ceremonies. Credit: Gary Hershorn / Reuters.

Oscars 2012: 'Snubbed' Albert Brooks, Patton Oswalt tweet woes

January 24, 2012 | 10:55 am

Click here for more coverage of the Oscar nominations

"You don't like me, you really don't like me," Albert Brooks tweeted Tuesday, a few hours after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to recognize his performance as brutal gangster Bernie Rose in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" with an Oscar nomination. Those nine words were all that fellow rejected actor Patton Oswalt ("Young Adult") need to get him going on a Twitter rant that pretty much encompassed every overlooked actor in this year's Oscar race.

It began with Oswalt asking Brooks to join him for a drink at the Drawing Room. "Me and Serkis have been here since 6 am," he tweeted, referring to Andy Serkis and his failure to obtain an acting nod for his motion-capture work in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

FULL COVERAGE: The Oscar nominees

"See you later tonight," he continued. "Serkis has Pogues on the jukebox and Fassbender just showed up in a pirate hat." Michael Fassbender was also ignored, with academy voters not recognizing him for his role as a sex addict in the harrowing drama "Shame."

Oswalt was not content to settle with the actors. "We're definitely going to run out of booze. Charlize & Tilda just pulled up in a stolen police car." Neither Charlize Theron nor Tilda Swinton was rewarded for her work in such prickly films as "Young Adult" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

His absurdist scene continued, begging Brooks to meet him. "Dude, get down here. Gosling is doing keg stands and Olsen and Dunst literally just emerged from a shower of rose petals."

Ryan Gosling received no love for either of his compelling roles in "The Ides of March" and "Drive." Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlene") and Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia") were unable to crack the competitive lead actress category.

Oswalt then invoked Dunst's controversial director Lars von Trier, who made waves in Cannes last year with some ill-considered remarks on Nazism: "Von Trier just pulled up in a pass van dressed as Goering. 'Let's go to Legoland! With a boozy hurrah, we're out."

Looks like Brooks missed his chance to accompany his fellow snubbies with Oswalt's final tweet. "Oh. My. God. Just pulled up to Legoland. DiCaprio's rented the park for the day. Dibs on the Duplo Gardens!"

It's a shame we won't get more commentary from Oswalt. His voice on the campaign scene was, to say the least, quite refreshing.


And the nominees are...

Oscars 2012: Who was snubbed? Who surprised?

Oscars 2012: Surprises? Getting naked doesn't guarantee a nod

 -- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Patton Oswalt during the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 12 in Los Angeles. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.



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