Selma reviews

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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Okri » Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:28 pm


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Re: Selma reviews

Postby HarryGoldfarb » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:34 pm

dws1982 wrote:A shame Selma didn't get the screeners out, because a SAG Ensemble nomination would've been richly deserved; it's rare to see a movie with a cast this large where so many of the characters register strongly as human beings.


This is a great statement. Having just seen Selma, I am definitley on the side of those who thinks it is indeed way undernominated. The cast did a superb job, a very collaborative one, very subdued to the films' intentions. Tyldum's nod hurts the most considering what DuVernay accomplished. If it would have gotten at least the directing nomination, everything would be more... logic.
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Greg » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:19 pm

"‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay to create Katrina-based film:"

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ava-duvernay ... trina-film

This comment by DeVernay really cracked me up:

"Meanwhile, DuVernay has made no secret about her desire to work with Oyelowo as often as she can. 'Usually muses are hot, young things for some old-man director, so he’s my hot blond,' the director told The Daily Beast."
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:41 pm

There was a pretty decent 1997 TV movie called George Wallace which won Emmys for director John Frankenheimer and stars Gary Sinise as Wallace and Mare Winningham as his first wife. Emmy nominated Angelina Jolie as his second wife won a Golden Globe while Sinise and Winningham had to settle for nominations.

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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:15 pm

CSPAN did a pretty terrific series a few years back called 'The Contenders' highlighting fourteen candidates who ran for the Presidency, lost, but had an incredible impact. The best stuff is the conversations with historians but there are also interviews with family members if possible. The Wallace episode is a letdown because the only thing that comes across from the interviews with family members is just how much effort is required to defend the man. Even the good he did in his life must be intertwined with the question: "Was that genuine?"

I find George Wallace's ambitions compelling and I think it's fascinating to contemplate a different 1970s had Wallace sent the 1968 election to the House. Had he won North and South Carolina and Tennessee (different VP coulda swung it) plus Humphrey wins one more state and somehow the House has to choose between two establishment candidates nobody is enthusiastic about and George Wallace. It could have been a bigger disaster than the 2000 election. But I can't read too much about him before feeling a bit ill and wanting to move onto more pleasant subjects.
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:20 pm

Sabin wrote: But what puzzles me is if they found time to flesh out Tim Roth's George Wallace, who comes across as a masterfully shrewd politician utilizing awful circumstance to personal gain and not a boorish racist

Wallace is one of the more fascinating (but mostly forgotten) American politicians of the 20th Century. I don't know that anyone has ever firmly established whether he was a genuine racist or whether he was mostly a shrewd politician using the racial tension for political ends. At any rate, he claimed that after the assassination attempt in 1972, he experienced a religious conversion which caused him to rethink all of the racist things he had done in the past. When he was elected governor for a fourth and final time in 1982, he carried the African-American vote by a comfortable margin, and he appointed then-record numbers of African-Americans to cabinet positions. For what it's worth, for a supposed born-again Christian, he was reportedly pretty horrible to both of the (much younger) wives he married and divorced during that time period, and his son has ties to some racist organizations. Alabama is still, in many ways, not a very racially progressive state (although it kind of depends on where you live in the state), but in the old "Alabama History" course that we had to take in school, Wallace always got a very negative portrayal, mainly for segregation, but also for being that mean man who hid his first wife's cancer diagnosis from her for four years to the point that when she found out, it was too late to do anything about it.

As for Selma, I admired it a great deal. I feel like I may have underrated it a bit due to the fact that I got really hungry about thirty minutes in. It and American Sniper are my clear picks of the Best Picture lineup, and I think they would make an interesting double feature, especially if you're wanting to look at the way "true stories" deal with the facts. (I don't have a problem with the way either of them handled the facts.) A shame Selma didn't get the screeners out, because a SAG Ensemble nomination would've been richly deserved; it's rare to see a movie with a cast this large where so many of the characters register strongly as human beings. The Imitation Game had a cast less than half the size of this one, and it's hard to remember its supporting actors as anything other than "Mark Strong, the guy from Downton Abbey, the guy from The Good Wife, the young guy, and the other young guy". Very well-photographed too. Certainly would've been deserving of a Cinematography nomination.
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:02 am

The Original BJ wrote
Most of all, I think the movie is compelling for the scenes I didn't necessarily expect to see here. A powerful household moment between the Kings where she confronts him about his infidelities. Scenes that highlight the uncomfortable attitude young black SNCC workers had when King and his supporters arrived in Selma due to differing opinions over how best to achieve results. The appearance of Malcolm X, oft-critical of King, but who showed up in town encouraging support, albeit to the great skepticism of Martin Luther and Coretta.

Yes, and these are all in the first half of the movie. Especially the fantastic scene where Mrs. King confronts Dr. King about his infidelities, what I found so engrossing about Selma is that for a good stretch, it aims to turn the intimate convictions of these giants into the canvas. DuVernay wants to tackle everything similarly to Oliver Stone. It's a docu-drama that at times feels like a procedural as if Selma is something to be solved. That makes it very gripping at the start but unless it was able to pull its threads together into a narrative like Spielberg/Kushner managed with Lincoln it ultimately fails in cohering as a full, three act narrative.

Selma really doesn't have a third act and it never tries to understand why Dr. King backed down from the second march. Really that is the moment when it started to fall into the distance for me. Or maybe it's that amazingly distracting scene between Cuba Gooding Jr. and Martin Sheen. While Ava DuVernay does a good job directing this film (and man, Bradford Young shoots the hell out of it), there are some incredibly jarring choices in Selma between that, between every moment Oprah Winfrey is on-screen, and slow-motion that I hated.

But for quite some time, I found Selma very moving. If Selma may not quite have a third act but perhaps it's mission is to lead on into the present. It cuts to documentary footage of the march, leading us to believe the film is over, and then again to the actors. Hyperbole would lead one to say something like "Selma wants to be more than a movie." That would be great if it spent a little more time telling a story.

RE: Lyndon Johnson, I am fine with Ava DuVernay's choice to place greater emphasis on the accomplishments of the demonstrators led by Dr. King than behind the scenes dealings by President Johnson. We've seen more than enough films where it ultimately falls upon a kindly white benefactor to make change. Besides that, I don't pretend to know President Johnson's heart and he would seem to be the most contradictory President we've had with the possible exception of Jefferson. His legacy can take this. But what puzzles me is if they found time to flesh out Tim Roth's George Wallace, who comes across as a masterfully shrewd politician utilizing awful circumstance to personal gain and not a boorish racist, then was there no time to give us Lyndon Johnson as anything other than a vaguely impotent politician, let alone a vaguely impotent politician who doesn't seem capable of winning a single conversation with anyone. There were times when he seemed forebear to William H. Macy from Fargo. I support Ava DuVernay's intention but I truly do wonder if she holds Johnson in any esteem. After Johnson has his conversation with Wallace, all that would have been needed was for him to get on the phone with Dr. King one last time and then off to sign the Civil Rights Act. Instead when he signs the legislation in the film, it comes across as solely for selfish legacy.
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Greg » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:34 am

What makes me think that Selma is being pummeled in the guilds and some critics awards because of a lack of screeners is that it now has a 100% fresh and a 9/10 rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 91 score at Metacritic. This appears to be near-universal acclaim from those who have actually seen it. That means the big suspense this Oscar season will not be at the awards themselves, but at the nomination announcements to see how well Selma does.
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:41 pm

I wish I’d written about Selma a week ago, when I saw it, rather than now, when it’s getting pummeled in oped columns and at the Guilds. But I have to be honest and say I was a trifle disappointed.

BJ said in his comments on the film that it wasn’t Lincoln, and I wish I’d more carefully read that before going in. Because most of the critical response HAD led me to expect something on the elevated level of Lincoln – in fact, some who downplayed Lincoln as talky history (a verdict with which I vehemently disagree) seemed to think this new film was, finally, the real historical deal. I’m certainly not saying the film’s bad in any way. It’s very well written and staged; its scenes capture the sense of real-time encounter, rather than feeling like selected high points dramatized for easy comprehension; most of the characters (with one exception) are refreshingly dimensional. But, except for maybe the encounter on the Pettus Bridge, it never soared for me; it all burned at low flame. I found myself thinking of what Fanny Brice said about second husband Billy Rose: “I fell in like with him”. And “like”, in movies as in love, is fatally second-best. (There is the possibility, of course, this is just a quadrant of history with which I’m so over-familiar that it’s impossible to find anything in it that would truly surprise me)

The film is, however, certainly well superior to the Theory of Everything (haven’t seen Imitation Game, but I have little doubt it’s better than that, as well). As I said, scenes ring simple and true, right from the opening scene of Coretta helping Martin tie his tie. The Birmingham girls’ scene is handled with great taste that’s all the more devastating for its restraint. Oyelowo delivers speeches in King’s cadence, capturing his spirit without seeming to be doing an impression. (And I’m told they were contractually forbidden from using King’s actual words, so whoever wrote these speeches is to be commended for creating such a splendid facsimile) The conflicts with SNCC, and within the movement, are dramatized succinctly, with precision (though it did beggar belief that someone would have to explain to King what SNCC stood for) And the actors are for the most part very well-cast, right down to the actor who approximates what John Lewis’ voice would have sounded like 50 years ago.

But…god, I hate to have to dive into this…the LBJ scenes were really disappointing. I’ve done enough reading about him over decades to know that, if there’s one thing to which he was deeply devoted – the thing that made him ask “What’s the presidency for?” – it was civil rights, and DuVernay and company make it feel like his interest was totally venal, strictly a result of outside pressure. It’s puzzling why they felt they needed to go so far to knock him down – LBJ has enough sins on his ledger that he’s not going to be a plaster saint in the best reckoning. Why have him behave in ways that even Andrew Young says aren’t true? It’s especially strange because the same writer/director do a terrific job on the scenes with George Wallace – Wallace never exactly sought the role of national race-baiter, but went with it when it came along, and the filmmakers capture both those things nicely. But Johnson takes their wrath. (In fact, watching that last scene between Wallace and Johnson, I had the strange feeling the filmmakers might more respect Wallace, for sticking to his loathsome beliefs, than Johnson, who they portray as only going along to secure the praise of history) These scenes really took me out of a movie I otherwise thought was pretty seamless. (Well, one other issue: every time they cut to Oprah, it was jarring for me, reminding me of the big star muscle behind the project)

Let me emphasize, I mostly agree with what BJ said this morning: that Selma is still better than several of the films the PGA selected this morning, and deserved nomination ahead of them. But I expected this movie to be a passion pick for some voters, and I can see where it wouldn’t be…since it certainly wasn’t for me.

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Re: Selma reviews

Postby flipp525 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:12 pm

Big Magilla wrote:Well, if the film's the big hit everyone is expecting it will be, there's a good chance that they will make a sequel that will cover the latter part of his life.

Is this some sort of joke? "Give us the Oscar and the box office and we'll give you the rest of the story next year"? That's just embarrassing.
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:06 pm

Well, if the film's the big hit everyone is expecting it will be, there's a good chance that they will make a sequel that will cover the latter part of his life.

While it is generally assumed that Turing committed suicide, it has never been proven. The truth may be even more heartbreaking if a theory posited on Wikipedia is true.

The post-mortem found he died of cyanide poisoning but there was no in-depth examination to tell whether he ingested the poison or inhaled it. There was no note, but there was a half-eaten apple that was found at his bedside. It was never tested for poison. Supposedly he had a habit of leaving half-eaten apples at his bedside. At this point in his life he had only a small room where he also conducted experiments. It was his mother's contention that the poorly stored chemicals he used may have emitted fumes which killed him in his sleep. Unfortunately his body couldn't be exhumed for a more thorough examination because he was cremated.

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Re: Selma reviews

Postby flipp525 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:39 pm

Oh, great. So another movie that has virtually been de-gayed could triumph at the Oscars. Granted I haven't seen it, but from what I've heard (and what The Original BJ states in his review of the film) The Imitation Game downplays its main character's homosexuality to the point of absurdity, presenting some of the most dramatic events of his tragic life in title cards that appear right before the credits.

When will Hollywood stop white-washing (lavender-washing?) "the gay" out of historical biopics? We've seen this time and time again. The other example that immediately comes to mind is the de-gaying of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind which, of course, went onto win the Oscar for Best Picture that year.

[I tried to post this in The Imitation Game thread, responding directly to things that BJ and Greg had stated about the lack of depiction of Turing's homosexuality, but I kept getting 403 Forbidden notices.]
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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:33 pm

And, yeah, as Oscar Guy has said, there's the Harvey factor.

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Re: Selma reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:31 pm

I see this as a repeat of 2010 with Boyhood dominating the critics' awards and either The Imitation Game or Unbroken dominating the guild awards and winning the Oscar.

Boyhood and Birdman are critics' favorites, of which Boyhood is the clear favorite. The more middle-brow guild and Academy members, however, are more likely going to go for a more populist film. Selma will probably score a slew of nominations including the first black female director, but it would be more of a player if we hadn't had civil rights issue champions 12 Years a Slave last year and Lincoln the year before. The Academy likes to go in different directions from year to year, but one thing they always come back to is films about war, especially the second World War, and this year we have two major contenders in The Imitation Game and Unbroken and a minor contender in Fury.

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Re: Selma reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:24 pm

The King's Speech was a Harvey vehicle giving it a lot more weight that it might otherwise have had. It was also a feel-good movie. I think The Imitation Game has a better shot of being a King's Speech type victor than Selma does.
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