Posts tagged ‘Citizen Ruth’

June 27, 2013

DIY Cannes 2013: The Palme D’Ork Awards

Since I mainly think about awards, if I have a film festival, it needs to have awards. I decided that for finishing the 20 movie marathon I planned, I would give it out awards just like they do on the Croisette, including following the rule that no movie can win 2 awards.

And without further ado,  the winners are:

Best Actress:

Annette Bening in The Grifters

Annette Bening – The Grifters
What can I say? It was love at first sight. Annette’s smokin’ portrayal of a super psychotic con woman is so electrifying that it carries this film. I also can not believe how sexy she is in this. She deserved her Oscar nomination and she deserves it here.

Best Actor:

Barton Fink

John Turturro – Barton Fink

As it goes with the rules, some movie has to win Best Actor. There were many choices of great performances in under directed movies. But none of those leading men were really giving award winning performances. I decided to go with a performance that is great that is only great because of the direction of this film. John Turturro is brilliant as Barton. His small quiet rage was so specific, he brought it to life. This performance is only possible though, with the specificty of the Coen Bros. writing and directing. They created a fantastic atmosphere for this unique performance, and that deserves to be noted. That being said. This is John Turturro’s award, and he deserves the hell out of it.

Best Screenplay:

The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides – Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola deserves so many points for clearly adapting a novel in to a fantastic unique film that stands on its own. The sense of a greater world is there. Every decision made in this movie was informed on the world of these characters. The specific world of this was brought in both representing Jeffrey Eugenides world, but also the unique world view of auteur Sofia Coppola. Her razor sharp wit and incredible sentimentality completely push it over the edge.

Best Director:

audition

Takashi Miike – Audition
Horror movies get so often over looked, but they are mainly a director driven field. As much as any arthouse world. And Takashi Miike is the Woody Allen of horror movies. He makes a ton, but only a couple of them are good. And they’re great. Audition is one of the greats and it is only great through the incredible tension built in this movie. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. Well done.

Palme Dog:

Nina

Chloe – Tell No One

The movie had a lot of problems, but is completely worth remembering exists. Why? Because of the incredible canine performance given by Chloe as Nina the dog. This dog is a champion. She is super brave and often gets caught in the fray of her crazy owner’s life. She handles it like a pro and still manages to be an awesome dog. I want one when I’m 50. Also Chloe is the real life original book’s author Harlan Coben’s dog. What?!? This is just a real life dog who is super badass? Where can I meet her?

Jury Prize:

Citizen Ruth Quote

Citizen Ruth – dir. Alexander Payne

Often known as the third place prize at Cannes, the Jury Prize is just a place to honor a super excellent film. So I decided to make a top 3 of the festival, and no matter how deserving they were of other categories, who cares? This is way better. And Alexander Payne proved my expectations way wrong and made something so fun and pointed that I couldn’t resist. I also love a movie where the moral of the story is “everyone’s a nut job.” They just don’t happen anymore. Citizen Ruth deserves a permanent place in the new Cult Canon.

The Grand Prix:

The Arbor

The Arbor – dir. Clio Barnard

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m making a concerted effort to see more documentaries, but I’ve been finding that, for me, the staying power of a documentary is never too long. The Arbor completely bucks that trend and floored me with its combination of gender, class, and racial politics all topped with a high concept narrative style and a compelling emotional family story. The whole ensemble pulls off the lip-synced method with tremendous ease and it makes for one of the most unique documentary experiences out there.

The Palme D’Ork:

rosemary

Rosemary’s Baby – dir. Roman Polanski

I’ve mentioned before that this might be unfair, but this is known as one of the greatest films of all time and deserves every mention it gets. It’s the kind of film that goes beyond perfect into something totally new and defining. Film would not be the same without Rosemary’s Baby and all of its paranoid glory.

Thanks for sticking with me during this little project. I certainly had a lot of fun and discovered tons of great directors along the way. Some of the movies I watched were stinkers, others were masterpieces, most fell in between. But the idea of discovery that maybe THIS will be my new favorite movie is so exciting to me, that I don’t regret anything. Even Valhalla Rising. I definitely want to continue this tradition next year. Since the internet is a dark deep vortex, there are already predictions for what the 2014 Cannes Film Festival might bring. For me, that would mean catching up with P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, Olivier Assayas, David Cronenberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Joachim Trier, and Thomas Vinterberg. I already can’t wait.

June 16, 2013

DIY Cannes 2013: Citizen Ruth

Laura Dern Citizen RuthTo stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way?

And yes, I know it’s over, but 2 week long trips in the middle of this project set me back very far. I’m going to finish it up anyway BECAUSE I CARE. Or I’m still unemployed.

Movie #18: Citizen Ruth

Director: Alexander Payne

His Cannes 2013 Movie: Nebraska

“Controversial” movies are usually a tough sell. Controversial comedies are usually even tougher. When I learned that Citizen Ruth was an abortion comedy, I was equal parts horrified and amused. Can Alexander Payne actually pull this off?

He did! When we meet Ruth (Laura Dern) she is one of the most desperate, strung-out, and pathetic junkies I’ve seen on screen in a while. Her drug of choice seems to be spray paint fumes, but will use cement sealant or good ol’ fashioned alcohol in a pinch. When she finds out that she is in fact pregnant (for the 5th time, no less) the judge suggests she gets an abortion. Then, as any good synopsis should say, Ruth finds herself in the middle of an all-out war about abortion.

What makes this movie work is the comedy rarely comes from abortion itself, but rather the weird people who support pro-life or pro-choice sides. While Payne probably shifts a little more towards pro-choice throughout the film, I want to delineate how well he balances the two sides out. Gail and Norm Stoney (Mary Kay Place and Kurtwood Smith) take Ruth in and are the local chapter leaders of their pro-life outfit. They have a whole series of songs and chants speaking out against abortion that are so absurd to be funny. When Ruth finally meets the pro-choice team, she thinks she has left the crazy behind. But a possibly lesbian couple drags her outside to sing a song in reverence to a moon goddess. So everyone is just a little bit nuts, and that makes everything way more fun.

The ensemble of this film is absolutely tremendous top to bottom. I understand that the Kurtz family needs to eat, but Swoosie Kurtz needs to find more audacious work like this. She is a true treasure. Tippi Hedren and Burt Reynolds are both given fantastic cameos, and the list of character actors involved includes M.C. Gainey, Kenneth Mars, Kathleen Noone, and even Kelly Preston! However, Laura Dern really steals the show as she always does. Her manic and selfish drive in life would probably get her places if she wasn’t always huffing glue.

I’m so glad to have caught up with this underseen gem, and maybe I’ll be able to forgive Alexander Payne for some of his other snoozefests. He’s not forgiven yet, though.