Little Children

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Postby flipp525 » Thu Dec 07, 2006 10:29 am

I still think it might be able to pull in nods for Winslet and screenplay. With critical attention, Haley and Somerville are both possibilities in support.
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Postby dws1982 » Thu Dec 07, 2006 10:27 am

I have a feeling that New Line's strategy with Little Children has killed whatever momentum it had.

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Postby Mister Tee » Thu Dec 07, 2006 10:15 am

For those of you frustrated at not getting a chance to see this film, some information:

Specialty film schedules bend to awards
'Volver,' 'Little Children' planning slow expansions


By announcing the first kudos of the season, the National Board of Review fires the starting pistol for the distributors of specialty films planning their release schedules around awards.
The awards attention -- which intensifies in the next eight days, with voting from L.A. and Gotham critics and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. -- is especially crucial for specialty pics.

Sony Classics has kept "Volver," which won the NBR award for foreign film, to 30 screens after five weeks, timing its rollout to the season.

Similarly, New Line has kept "Little Children" to 37 screens at its widest. In its nine weeks of release, pic has cumed $1.8 million; wider expansion is planned for January.

A very different kind of strategy has been employed for other niche titles. Paramount Vantage's "Babel" (which made the NBR's top-10 list), Sony's "Marie Antoinette" and MGM's "Bobby" have found a tough time crossing over to 1,000-screen rollouts after a limited start.

Warner Independent's "The Painted Veil," Miramax's "Venus," Searchlight's "Notes on a Scandal," the Weinstein Co.'s "Factory Girl" and MGM's "Home of the Brave" open later this month, their bows timed to come in the midst of awards handout season.

But their distribs took a different tack with "Little Children" and "Volver," opening them early enough to stand out from the glut but limiting their rollouts to gain traction in what has been a slow season for so many specialty pics.

"Volver" won't go wide until Christmas and has so far hit $1.8 million while posting some of the season's most impressive per-screen averages. (Pic's lowest average has been about $12,600 off 30 in its most recent frame, its highest roughly $39,500 off its five-screen bow.)

Though "Children" was shut out by the NBR, New Line is bullish on its chances with upcoming awards.

"We've always thought that the film's strongest card would be critical recognition and word of mouth," said New Line production chief Toby Emmerich. "It's about keeping your gun powder dry until awards kick in. This is not an easy movie to sell based on its subject matter or storyline. So the plan was to put it out to the tastemaker markets and let momentum build."

The studio resisted a wide rollout even after the pic posted a healthy $19,500 per-playdate average when it bowed on five screens back in early October.

That number fell to about $7,500 when "Children" expanded to 32 screens in its third weekend.

New Line said the pic has been growing in Santa Monica, Pasadena and Gotham.

"We're waiting for critical mass to build," New Line distrib topper David Tuckerman said of the decision to keep a tight lid on the pic. "It has been coming along, but we've been waiting for (awards nominations). We may have gone a little early."

The decision to hold a film back till awards kick in can cause ruffled feathers among a studio and the eager agents, talent and producers who want to make sure the studio is bullish on the film and pushing it enough.

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Postby flipp525 » Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:28 pm

criddic3 wrote:They could have just told the story of the affair and it would have been just as good, in spite of Haley's performance.

The dramatic irony, though (as I pointed out in my initial review below) is that here you have these adulterers, internet porn addicts, and manslaughterers daring to cast judgment on a pedophile who's trying to be good in a world of constant temptation and currently resisting his vice while they've all basically thrown themselves into theirs' without abandon.

If you think about it, Haley's character is the only one who actually resists his particular temptation, even going so far as to make strides to eliminate the source of his desires.
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Postby Reza » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:21 am

NY Post


November 27, 2006 -- 'SARAH IS definitely the hardest part I've ever had to play!" says the beautiful Kate Winslet, better known to her adoring public as the girl who survived the sinking of the Titanic.

I met this glamorous creature on 14th Street in the Balducci grocery that now inhabits a former bank. She arrived with a stroller attached, as if part of her outfit, and struggled upstairs with it. While we looked down on people buying cheese and fresh veggies, we talked about her latest movie.

In this one, "Little Children," directed by Todd Field, Kate plays a disaffected adulterous suburban wife, who doesn't much relate to her little girl or her porn-addicted husband, and falls for a neighbor who is a good-looking, stay-at-home dad.

The British-to-the-core Kate is currently living in Greenwich Village with her two young children and husband Sam Mendes, who is directing playwright David Hare's "The Vertical Hour." It opens Thursday. Meanwhile, Kate is taking a year off from acting because at this juncture, she has just had three films open - bang, bang, bang: "All the King's Men," "Little Children" and a charming voice-over in "Flushed Away." And there's her comedy with Jack Black, "The Holiday," coming Dec. 8. Wow!

LS: This movie of yours, for which they're saying you'll win a fifth Oscar nomination, seemed a bit incomplete to me, but someone I respect points out that was exactly why he liked it.

KW: I feel it's a complete story about two people specifically who, through a casual meeting, discover what it is they've been lacking all their lives. It's very brave; the film makes no apology for itself. The emotional journey the character Sarah goes on is epic - epic for a woman.

LS: You can act without saying anything. You make your audience know your feelings and you haven't even spoken.

KW: I certainly try to do that. It is about filling every single moment. The privilege of being able to act for a living is so important to me. I don't turn up and just hope for the best. I prepare for the experience and sometimes for the ordeal of playing a person. It takes a long time to unravel myself into the other person. It's tough.

LS: Your co-star, Patrick Wilson; I met him when he made "The Alamo" and he was great in "Angels in America."

KW: He's wonderful - a lovely person.

LS: Want to tell me about your famous nude scene on top of the washing machine? I understand it was just you and Patrick and the director holding the camera.

KW: Yes, but it was horrible, absolutely desperate and awful. Now you're not actually having sex; you're acting. But we have all these sweet little "coverings" of our private parts - and things like that. It is a profoundly strange part of this job. I've done loads of nude scenes before, tons. And every time, I say, that's it! After "All the King's Men" I said it; now I say it after "Little Children."

LS: Your director was mentored by none other than the late Stanley Kubrick. I gather you liked him.

KW: Yes, indeed! We filmed in New Jersey, Staten Island, Queens, and tried to make it look as if my character was a regular person who finds herself having a torrid affair. I didn't want her to look perfect or starved. She's had a child and one's body changes forever after that. I wanted women to see this and say - "that's me!"

LS: You are so loving and "present" for your own two children. Was it difficult to be cold and indifferent to this adorable little 3-year-old in the film. How could she be coached to react as she does in this movie?

KW: Well, I absolutely adored this very bright little girl. She'd sit on my knee between takes. We had a great relationship, and she trusted me. Before the movie, we had play dates and went to the zoo. Then before the scenes, I'd whisper to her and say, "Now we get to pretend I'm a bad mommy. Knock on the bathroom door and say the line. I'm going to pretend that I'm mad at you. I encouraged her to enter the game. She was wonderful!"

LS: You're so opposite to this character. You seem happy and fulfilled.

KW: I am! Sarah is isolated, depressed. She feels she lost herself through having a child and marrying the wrong man. She resents the child and has made terrible errors of judgment. The challenge was to embrace playing someone so weak.

LS: I want to ask now - after four Oscar nominations, are you ready to stand up like Shirley MacLaine and say, "I deserve it!"

KW: (Laughing) I don't know. I'm unbelievably proud of my four nominations. It's not something I ever thought would happen to me, though I grew up in a theatrical family in England. I'm not Academy-savvy. I haven't chosen roles that win Oscars. I'm grateful to have been there before. I'd love to be there again. The truth is when I've been nominated, I've known that I wasn't going to win. So I walked into the situation and loved the moment. And now my kids are my entire world.

With this, Kate got up to go pick up her 3-year-old boy. Is there anything she misses being in New York? "Yes, my mum. But she and my dad came here for Thanksgiving! Bye, bye, got to run and get a chocolate ladybug for my little boy."

Goodbye, Kate - see you at the Academy Awards!

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Postby criddic3 » Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:54 pm

I just saw this film today. Well-acted, with some well-written sequences, but definitely NOT a best picture contender. Some were predicting it might be a surprise entry.

The narration was sometimes a distraction, but it was -as some have said- entertaining much of the time, as it comments on the events unfolding.

They could have just told the story of the affair and it would have been just as good, in spite of Haley's performance.
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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:26 pm

As BJ notes, I've said earlier that I found the novel's climax disappointing. As I was watching the film, I found myself thinking, No wonder -- what COULD fittingly wrap up a story as all-over-the-place as this? Field/Perrotta mostly center their film around the Sarah/Brad affair, but they serve up any number of additional stories (esp. Ronnie and his mother, and Larry's past tragedy) that make the film feel diffuse -- at times I felt I was losing the thread, even knowing where the story was going.

I can't find my copy of the novel to check (and if I'm wrong, excuse me), but it seems to me there were actually small adjustments made to the ending, regarding Ronnie's fate, that made that part of the story, at least, reach some sort of transformative finish. But the Sarah/Brad story just dribbles away as it did in the novel. All I get from Brad's action is, he's lazy and unambitious, and will blow off anything in the end -- though even that might have been resolved in some more interesting, dynamic way.

All this negatively said, I may surprise you by saying, I think this film is well worth seeing. It may not articulate any central themes coherently, but it's certainly groping with big things -- things that resonate well after the film is over. The based-on-genuine-concern-but-inflated-to-fever pitch panic over Ronnie's presence seems to make flesh the unspoken sexual disappointments/anxieties that run through all the characters. And, scene for scene, the film finds interesting approaches to a variety of archetypal suburban conflicts. It would have been nicer if it had all fit together better, but I can't deny I think there's alot there.

I also think Field does a tremendous job of directing -- not just in getting mostly outstanding performances, but in staging the scenes and juxtaposing one against another. I thought In the Bedroom was pretty well directed, too (though most seemed to concentrate their praise on that film's script), but this represents a big leap. (I do, though, agree that the Bovary scene had a sore-thumb quality. The irritating neighbor had, in the playground scene, achieved a perfect balance between satire and believability, with her "I just can't stand to see her suffer". In this scene, every single line is punched too hard. And Winslet's swoony coital flashes are of a redundancy that recalls the last shots of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?)

Speaking of Winslet, I've come to the conclusion she's incapable of giving a bad performance. Which isn't necessarily the highest compliment: some have that quality, but in a sort of even-keel way that prevents them from ever rising to absolute greatness, either. Winslet has no such limitation. She makes her characters utterly transparent, and Sarah is one of her best creations. (She even transcends what seems miscasting: Sarah's supposed to be a bit frowsy, which doesn't describe Kate on her worst day. She does, though, convey someone utterly careless about her appearance; you can believe Brad is drawn to her for her personality, not her looks) Wilson is very strong in a role that could have been played as strictly him-bo; Brad's limited, a bit dull, and has coasted on his looks...but Wilson makes him a full, interesting human being. Connelly is fine as far as she goes -- she meets the "knockout" standard the dialogue promises -- but the role is thankless. (I was honestly astonished she took the part, knowing how minor it was) Haley is quite good, though it's his creepy look that carries the part more than his acting. And Somerville (who, as I've said, I know a little) is terrific -- though I wonder if the part is a scene or two short of nomination-likely. Kudos also to Emmerich, who makes a hard-to-take-on-the-page character believable and near-sympathetic.

I'm not sure about the narration. It was unusually interior-directed for voice-over, and every time it popped up, the film-school-adherent in me asked, Wasn't there a less intrusive way to convey this stuff? Then again, it was usually conveying things that weren't clear in the action, so maybe the film would have suffered without it.

I don't think it's any surprise the film is not a commercial smash (though my early Sunday afternoon show in NY was surprisingly packed). This is a film that steps into a lot of forbidden territory; even if it stops short of the money-shot aspects offered by Happiness, it still offers alot more creepy masturbation than most movie-goers are anxious to see. (The film did mercifully cut most of Sarah's husband, which pushed this stuff further) It's a problematic film overall -- but one I think all serious movie-goers will want to take a look at.

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Postby flipp525 » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:42 pm

abcinyvr wrote:I too am concerned that [the narration's] presence is going to be divisive, or an excuse for some to dislike the movie. I feel that it is one of the main things that make L.C. work and sets it apart from other films, even In The Bedroom.

That's exactly how I felt about the narration. It really does set this movie apart from other films in the "unpeeling the onion to expose the hypocrisies of suburbia" vein. The voiceover was ironic, illuminating, entertaining, and sprinkled throughout the film judiciously. Some of the lines from the book are just too good not have been incorporated into the screenplay; especially the one during the dinner scene where the narrator compares Kathy finally checking into her husband's extracurricular activities, to someone having, "turned a knob a hair to the right, and the radio station clicked in, so loud and clear it almost knocked her over." It perfectly described that moment for me.

I also felt that the presence of the character of Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley) made an interesting point about the hypocrisy of the situation. Here are these adulterers, internet porn addicts, and manslaughterers daring to cast judgment on a pedophile trying to be good in a world of constant temptation and currently resisting his vice while they all thrown themselves into theirs' without abandon. It seemed really hollow and unfair.

The scene after Ronnie opens the note his mother left him was very powerful. His performance effortless danced between chilling and heartbreaking. The Academy ought to recognize Haley's performance.

The casting was perfect -- from the perfectly chiseled golden back of Patrick Wilson to Phyllis Somerville's frightened yet indefatigable mother of a pedophile.

And I didn't mind the heavy-handed parallel of Kate Winslet's character to Madame Bovary. The book club discussion is one of the best scenes in the movie.
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Postby abcinyvr » Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:23 pm


Original BJ I wish I could write about films like you do.

I hesitate to comment on the voice-over part of this film because I was able to see this amazing film without knowing anything about it. And I wish that everyone could see it as fresh as I did - hence my 'spoiler' alert. I too am concerned that it's presence is going to be divisive, or an excuse for some to dislike the movie. I feel that it is one of the main things that make L.C. work and sets it apart from other films, even In The Bedroom.
I was impressed with the ending, because as I sensed it approaching I was concerned that I was able to predict exactly what was about to happen, and thankfully I was wrong. I don't believe that all the strings need be tied tightly when the credits roll.
I concur about Jennifer Connelly. Her character doesn't have any strong scenes at all.

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Postby The Original BJ » Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:27 pm

I wanted to post thoughts right after I saw it last Friday, but I've been busy, so here goes . . .

I thought Little Children was a very impressive work, though not an absolutely unqualified success. I've not read the source material, but it seems that my quibbles were problems on the page as well. My reaction to the film I think mirrored Mister Tee's reaction to the book: I thought it was very compelling throughout, but felt it didn't ultimately cohere into an interesting whole.

But let me backtrack. The first portion of the film, particularly the first hour, is quite fantastic. Todd Field still isn't much of a visual stylist, but he maintains a very unique sense of tension throughout, with little details like the sound of a far-off train whistle seeming strangely ominous. I felt utterly drawn into the film's narrative threads, gripped by the developing stories and fascinated to see how they would play out. The voice-over narration will likely divide people, but I thought it worked (most of the time, more on that later), and I admired the use of such a literary device for its boldness.

I also appreciated that, in this post-American Beauty world, the film tackles the subject of a suburban community with a starkly dramatic seriousness, setting it apart from so many contemporary pics (and tv series) that attempt to expose the suburban "facade" through broad satire and not-particularly-clever humor. (There is one rupture, however: I found the book group scene grossly over-the-top in both its caricaturing of the other mom as well as its not subtle allusion equating Kate Winslet's character to Madame Bovary.)

But as the film went on, and as it kept introducing new characters and threads, I started to have a nagging concern about how these stories would all be tied together. And then when the film ended, or rather, when it DIDN'T end, I realized I had good reason for my concerns. Many reviewers will undoubtedly defend the non-ending as a necessary aspect of the film's "slice-of-life" point of view. And that's fine, I can enjoy a film that zeroes in on the lives of its characters within a specific community, and that doesn't necessarily wrap things up with a neat narrative conclusion.

However, the highly dramatic nature of the material led me to expect a MUCH stronger climax. I guess I mean to say that for a film that includes an extra-marital affair, the return of a convicted sex offender to a neighborhood, and surprising deaths both on-screen and off, an ending like this is akin to letting the air out of a balloon. I found the resolutions of BOTH Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson's arcs to be rather weak; it's not that I didn't believe either would make the decisions they did after what happens, it's just that I didn't find their choices dramatic enough for the climax of a two-hour-plus movie that, as stated above, has included PLENTY of drama so far.

Plus, only in the conclusion did the voice-over bother me, as it began to explicitly state the themes of the film, a trap it had successfully avoided throughout the rest of the picture. I honestly found it a little jarring, like the editor had spliced in the last five minutes of an episode of Desperate Housewives. ("Here's what we learned this week, folks . . .")

That said, I still think Little Children is one of the finest pictures of the year (admittedly, not an incredible achievement) with one of the finest casts of the year. Jackie Earle Haley and Phyllis Sommerville make a frighteningly tragic duet. Patrick Wilson is exceptionally well-cast. And Kate Winslet is, as always, wonderful, unafraid to portray her character warts and all when others would have almost certainly made Sarah a more sympathetic creation. (I don't mean to attempt to call the Oscar race now. However, having seen both Little Children and The Queen, if the Best Actress race were solely between Winslet and Mirren - which it certainly may not be as there are many contenders we have not seen yet who could rise like Hilary Swank to become the frontrunner - BUT, if it were solely between these two ladies, I would say that there is no way Mirren could lose. More on that in another post.) And if anyone still has Jennifer Connelly as an Oscar contender, cross her off immediately; her role is not interesting in the least.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:28 pm

Hmm, who is this new critic, John DeFore? He seems to be a bit more on the ball than the rest of the HR crew.

Little Children

By John DeFore
Hollywood Reporter

TORONTO -- In the endless stream of films made from literary properties, how many actually deliver the experience of reading a great novel? Providing richness of detail and metaphor, elegantly blueprinted themes and impressive mastery of a constantly shifting tone, "Little Children" does just that. It is a deeply satisfying film that should be an easy sell to serious moviegoers....

....The film's handling of that character, Ronnie, is one measure of its comfort with complexity. Director Todd Field and his co-screenwriter Tom Perrotta (who wrote the novel) afford him and his elderly mother a good deal of screen time, and an unnerving performance by Jackie Earle Haley depicts a believable man in the grip of a compulsion he wishes had a simple cure. One of Ronnie's key appearances shows the movie's way of being both comic and completely serious within a single scene.

That mixture works particularly well in the film's narration, which is wryly written and delivered by a kind of voice -- somber, vaguely foreboding -- that's rarely heard in movie voiceovers. The godlike voice offhandedly earns some of "Children's" strongest laughs, and viewers pestered with the nagging question of "Where have I heard this before?" will be rewarded late in the game, in a rare moment of uncomplicated comedy.

Although there is much going on around it, the affair between Sarah and Brad provides the story's soul. Viewers inclined to dismiss it as lustful self-indulgence are cautioned by an onscreen discussion of Emma Bovary: Sarah might be making things easy on herself when she describes the famous adulteress as an incarnation of feminist values, but her justification for this statement resonates with every thread of the film's story, in which the one essential human characteristic is hunger, and a heedlessness of hunger's consequences may be tragic but afflicts most of us at times, even after childhood ends.
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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:03 am

Stuart Whitman was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for The Mark in which he played a would-be pedophile who seeks psychiatric help before he acts on his impulses. Kevin Bacon won several awards for his portrayal of a pedophile in The Woodsman but couldn't garner an Oscar nod.

Given the competition for this year's supporting actor award I'd say a nomination for the one-time child actor will be a tough sell, but it could happen.

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:42 pm

Several reviews suggest Jackie Earle Haley is one of the stand-out performances in Little Children and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar contender but his role is that of a pedophile.

How many pedophile roles have been nominated for Oscars? I don't think there is one yet unless you count Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland.

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Postby VanHelsing » Sat Sep 09, 2006 7:05 am

Reza, I sure do hope that happens in the near future. :D

Ok, back to Little Children: as much as I'd like to see Winslet having an Oscar one day, I hope they'll give it to her if and only if she's really the best in Little Children and not simply because she's overdue.
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Postby Reza » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:07 am

VanHelsing wrote:
Penelope wrote:(does Todd Field have a Peyton Place obsession? this is his second film about secrets and scandal in a small town, and In the Bedroom was filmed in the same town as Peyton Place)

OMG! I didn't know that! Then Field should be the most suitable guy to direct Bullock in Grace. God, please let it happen!

.....the Oscar for Actress in a leading role goes to........(drum roll).....SANDRA BULLOCK in GRACE!!

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