The Bully Behind “Bully”

“It gets better”: that’s the anti-bullying message du jour, thanks to a terrifying onslaught of teen suicides that have plagued North America over the past three years. This worrisome trend gave rise to the “It Gets Better Foundation”, an anti-bullying movement that has since been fuelled by the mega-wattage, combined  star power of everyone from Justin Bieber, to Hilary Clinton, to Glee, the superficial musical dramedy that has become the effeminate and perfunctory face of teen gay bullying.

A documentary film has just been released to help aid the anti-bullying movement, aptly titled Bully. Directed by Lee Hirsch, Bully follows the lives of high school students from Iowa, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma from 2009-2010. The film captures truly horrific evidence of high school bullying and sheds a critical lens on the ways school administrations and parents fail to protect their most vulnerable children.

You might think: what a timely and important little piece of cinema. True dat, readers. True dat, indeed. However, there is one aspect of Bully‘s production narrative that works to mar its socially conscious credibility. This little, independent documentary that could now finds itself acquired by the big movie producer that could, one Harvey Weinstein.

For those of you unfamiliar with the movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein is one-half of the Weinstein Brothers, a pair of executive movie honchos who have produced some 240 projects including Shakespeare in Love, Pulp Fiction, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Finding Neverland, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The King’s Speech, The Artistand Fahrenheit 911, the latter of which got him canned from his Disney-owned company Miramax, which he originally founded with his brother Bob.

At the Oscars, he’s the obese, balding guy in the front row with rosed face from too much Cristal and ego-inflation, accompanied by a blushing, bedazzled British mannequin. That’s his wifey Georgina Chapman, one-half of design house Marchesa, a.k.a. Oscar couture catnip for Hollywood’s A-list. Her gowns have been worn on the Oscar red carpet by everyone from Anne Hathaway, to Jessica Alba, to Cameron Diaz, to Sandra Bullock on the night she took home Best Actress for Southern Blondes Prefer Black Kids. Talk about a synergistic, match made in marrying-well heaven.

Sure, Harvey sounds like a champion, a 300-pound champion of award shows and rack focus. However, the lumpy Queens kid has garnered himself quite the reputation of being a yep, you guessed it, a big bully. Years of crazy and misguided antics have fuelled this reputation, be it when he threatened director George Hickenlooper with physical harm over the editing work on Factory Girl’s sex scene, when he put a New York Observer reporter in a headlock while throwing him out of a party, when he badgered cancer-stricken director Sydney Pollock on his deathbed over fixing The Reader, or the much hyped screaming matches between himself and Martin Scorsese during production of Gangs of New York. I mean, who fights with Scorsese? He’s like a thickly-browed , giggling and greying teddy bear smelling vaguely of baked ziti.

Harvey’s presence alone is even intimidating enough to overturn NC-17 ratings, cough Blue Valentine cough. Yep. That shit should have never been switched back to R, let me tell you. I no longer believe in love or Ryan Gosling’s ability to age well, thanks to that 2 hour, shaky testament to the rapid expiry of monogamy. But I digress . . .

While even though I find this film to be timely, resonant, effective, and a vital piece of work, I am just so uneasy about Harvey boy’s presence in its credits. How can this film genuinely preach that “it gets better” when for those who have the misfortune of working with this overgrown, rage case, it doesn’t?

Okay, that might be a little heavy-handed. But does Weinstein’s presence within the film’s cultural narrative cheapen the message it works to perpetuate? Or does his superpower, representative of both sides of his character, help to bring new attention and resonance to an important issue that may have recently been forgotten? True, he has a temper. True, he’s any HR department’s worst nightmare. But this man has helped to bring larger audiences to countless independent film projects that might otherwise not see the light of regular distribution. He has impeccable taste, demonstrated with his financial backing of this project. But it just feels hilariously hypocritical.

Just something to consider. Oh and please don’t murder me, Mr. Weinstein. I wish to live to see Harry Potter World.

What do you think? Will Harvey Weinstein’s personal reputation muddy Bully’s message? Will Ryan Gosling age well? Will I get murdered for posting this? Share your thoughts with a comment, whydonchya?

The Best and Worst Oscar Looks by Sydnie P.

My adorable and fashionable colleague Sydnie Payne, expert celebrity fashion blogger over at Sydnie P., has picked her best and worst looks of last night’s Oscars. Get ready to simultaneously clap and gouge your eyes out.

Best – Giuliana Rancic in Tony Ward

Giuliana Rancic looked amazing in this embellished Tony Ward Couture gown. The beautiful beading, and shoulder detail makes this the best look from Oscars 2012.

Worst – Sandra Bullock in Marchesa

Sandra Bullock is beautiful, and her Marchesa gown is gorgeous. However, the gown is unflattering on the actress, and is the biggest red carpet disappointment.

To read Sydnie P.’s full Oscar fashion breakdown, click here.

84th Annual Academy Awards Recap

The 84th annual Academy Awards just went down and while there were a few shockers, it was mostly an unsurprising sweep for Hugo and The ArtistThat’s right, everyone’s favourite black and white, silent film that took Best Picture, Best Actor for Jean Dujardin, and Best Director for Michel Hazavicius. I am only sad that Uggie could not take home some sort of award for best trick by a canine, or best Jack Russell Terrier. Eat your heart out, Cosmo.

Hugo tied The Artist for the most wins: 5. This was largely thanks to the film’s sweep of the technical awards. The 3D epic won Best Original Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing (really good sound in Hugo, apparently), and Best Visual Effects.

As for the not so shocking moments: Octavia Spencer picked up Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Help. Christopher Plummer took home Best Supporting Actor for BeginnersRango took home Best Animated Feature. Woody Allen’s win for Best Original Screenplay for Midnight In ParisAnd finally, FINALLY, Meryl won her third Oscar for The Iron LadySandra Bullock can clear her conscience now.

Some of this year’s more shocking wins include Undefeated edging out Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, and as previously mentioned, Michel Hazanavicius win of Best Director over favourited Martin Scorsese.

As for the hosting, it was as stiff as Billy Crystal’s prosthetic hip and out of touch recession jokes. (What? The Oscars are excessive and culturally irrelevant in this current global recession? You don’t say! Hilarious and original, Mr. Crystal.) His opening song felt forced, unoriginal, and plain not fucking funny. My favourite portion of it was when they cut o Jean Dujardin and he smiled. Seriously, that was the high point.

Thank goodness the Oscars are over. I am just the worst during this season and therefore, I am needing my own thank you speech for this season; “Thank you to Samantha Hill for seeing every movie with me; many call you my closeted lesbian lover, I call you my celibate life partner. Thank you to my father for bankrolling all of my movie tickets and for nodding when I talked at nauseum about The Tree Of Life. Thank you to wonderful movies: you make my heart happy and continue to excite me year to year. And thank you to my readers, all 6 of you. Snark aside, if that is actually possible, I am grateful to each and every one of you. In the meantime, I’ll see you in line for popcorn.

For a complete list of the 84th Academy Award winners, click here.

Oscar Predictions By Katherine

It’s time for my old stand-by who should win/who will win predictions: Oscar edition. Get your pens poised, cause I’ll be showing you how to destroy you Oscar pool, thereby allowing you to verbally abuse all of those who pail in comparison to your Oscar greatness. Enjoy!

Best Motion Picture Of The Year

Who Should Win: The Tree Of Life – If you have read this blog even once, you will most likely know that I have a complete obsession with this bizarre, jurassic, and confusing film. Terence Mallick is a genius. Brad Pitt looked sexy in readers. Dinosaurs were there. What more do you want?

Who Will Win: The Artist – This charming throw-back to the black and white, silent era of film had every critic cheering. Literally. Every freaking critic would not shut up about this. It would be a huuuuuuge shocker if this film didn’t bring home not only this award, but plenty more.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role

Who Should Win: Damian Bachir in A Better Life – First of all, this film was one of the most affecting of the year. Second of all, Bachir is an incredibly underrated talent who deserves this, not only for his killer performance, but also for dat ass. Seriously. Google him.

Who Will Win: Jean Dujardin in The Artist – As George Vallentin, Dujardin was Clark Gable, Gene Kelly, and a French George Clooney all in one. It’s particularly awkward that in winning this award, he will be beating the real George Clooney.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role

Who Should Win: Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady – She’s a fucking goddess. End of discussion.

Who Will Win: Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady – Fucking right. (Sorry for so much profanity. Meryl just does something to me, okay?)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Who Should Win: Christopher Plummer in Beginners – What can I say? This was Captain Von Trapp’s year. As Hal, the newly gay and newly proud senior citizen, Plummer proved that hot Canadian men just get better with age.

Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer in Beginners – Everyone loves a gay old guy. Except maybe Evangelists and Anne Coulter.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Who Should Win: Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids – Okay, hear me out. Her character was based on Guy Fieri. That alone is worthy of an Oscar. Also, she grounded an otherwise ridiculous character with heart, wit, and some much-needed restraint.

Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer in The Help – It’s Minny Jackson’s year. No one can stop her and her shit pies.

Best Achievement In Directing

Who Should Win: Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris – Maybe my odd attraction to this incestuous little director has skewed my choice, but I believe this film is one of Allen’s best in years.

Who Will Win: Martin Scorsese for Hugo – Scorsese took a big risk with his first foray into 3D and boy did it pay off.

Best Screenplay

Who Should Win: Kristen Wiig and Amy Mumolo for Bridesmaids – To all the nay sayers out there: this script was charming, original, hilarious and yeah, a little raunchy. Unfortunately, the raunch stigma stinks. (Literally. Did you see her poop in the street?) Anyway, the snooty, old Oscar voters will likely not be rewarding that sort of potty humour and women being all independent and hilarious. Quelle domage.

Who Will Win: Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris – I’m into it. It is deserved. Ca c’est tout. (Get it? Cause it was set in Paris. So topical and hilarious).

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who Should Win: Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin for Moneyball – This trio is an Oscar voter’s wet dream. However, the film doesn’t have the cache to hold down a win. Sorry, Sorkin. You’ll have to cry into your Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Social Network. So 2011.

Who Will Win: Alexander Payne , Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash for The Descendants – They had to throw something Clooney’s way to make it worth his bronzer and carting that shiny mannequin around the red carpet all night.

Best Animated Feature Film 

Who Should Win: Puss In Boots – I chose this mostly because I enjoy Latin stereotypes.

Who Will Win: Rango – Johnny Depp as a lizard of some sort? American Western themes? Other talking animals? Oscar voters are clearly sold.

Best Foreign Language Film

Who Should Win: Monsieur Lazhar – Okay, I’m biased because it’s French Canadian. But honestly, this film was one of the most joyful, poignant, and enjoyable movies of the year. Bien sur! Poutine for all!

Who Will Win: A Separation – This Iranian import seems to have struck every right note with Oscar voters. I would be shocked if this classic Oscar bait didn’t bring home the gold.

Best Documentary

Who Should Win: Pina – This stunning 3D dance documentary may not have struck enough of an activist tone to make a ripple in the category, but it was by far the most visually impressive film I saw all year.

Who Will Win: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory – Let’s face it: HBO is like the cool kid at every award show. And the triple-homicide murder trial it is based upon is just too exciting, too provocative, and too engaging to be denied.

For a complete list of this year’s nominations, click here.

Dude Looks Like A Lady

Like Monsier d’Eon or Mrs. Doubtfire before him, the title character in Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs takes shelter in the costume of an opposing gender. Played by the powerful and altogether quiet Glenn Close, Albert finds ways of moving us with few words, a lot of makeup, and a surplus of talent.

Adapted from George Moore’s novel titled The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, the film incarnation tells the story of Albert, a quiet, odd-looking, and timid man who works as a waiter at a posh Dublin hotel. As previously mentioned, Albert holds a secret: he is a woman, hiding behind a suit, a haircut, and an aptly-placed tensor bandage. After encountering Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), a handyman who Albert must bunk with for the night, Albert discovers a fellow cross-dresser who might share in his experiences.

Page reveals to Albert that he is in fact married to a woman, and leads a seemingly normal heterosexual life of domesticity. Inspired by Page’s aspirational lifestyle, Albert pursues a maid at the hotel, Helen (Mia Wasikowska). But Helen is involved with the hotel’s furnace repair man Joe, played to charmingly volatility by Aaron Johnson. The young lovers plot to milk Albert for all of his hard earned money, in order to move to America, leaving the tiny, sad man to solitude. In this comedy of errors, gender, and poverty, Albert must struggle to hide his true biology, while attempting to become a man in his own right.

Within Albert Nobbs, we may see a charmingly conventional narrative of oppression told in an electrifyingly original fashion. Using classical stage techniques such as asides and soliliquys, Albert’s often hushed inner-voice is still heard in a authentically clear manner.

As Albert, Glenn Close simply nails the small nuances necessary to make a subtle character readable, relatable, and interesting to an audience. Watch yo’ back Meryl.

As far as its Oscar future goes, this small but powerful film faces stiff competition from some of its louder, more flashy competition. For Best Actress, it could go to either Close for this exciting role, but chances are my beloved Meryl will be finally winning her third. Janet McTreer also faces stiff competition from Octavia Spencer in The Help. It’s very doubtful that McTreer’s exciting yet understated performance can steal Minny Jackson’s thunder. Albert Nobbs’s best chance at taking home that golden statue falls in the Best Makeup Category. Cos’ hey, any makeup artist that can make Close look anything less than stunning deserves an award, am I right?

What did you think of Albert Nobbs? Drop me a little O day commentary, wontya please?

All The Right Moves

What can be said in words about German 3D dance film Pina? As a word lover, it grieves me to say that they simply are not enough to explain the beauty, triumph, and intelligence involved in this film. Motion is not easily captured by type, but I will journey on slightly to do this stunning documentary a microcosm of justice.

With the great joy of Pina’s breath-taking movement comes an underpinning of sorrow. Director Wim Wenders began this film to chronicle the life and work of choreographer Pina Bausch, the iconic master of Tanztheater. However, Pina died suddenly during production, and Wenders wanted to terminate production. However, the corps of Pina’s company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, pushed Wenders to continue the film in order to honour Pina’s outstanding creations. The result is just that: an outstanding creation.

And the dancing truly is outstanding. I won’t waste my time or yours waxing on my usual self-indulgent prose, as it will have little comparison to the joy in the image. All I will say is that the film rehashes some of Pina’s most prominent pieces, and mixes these gorgeous movements with rehearsal footage, interviews with the dance corps, and with Pina herself. This is one of the few 3D experiences that I really felt the medium was necessary and well used. All I can say of this film is that it must be seen to be believed.

As far as its Oscar future goes, this visually staggering documentary has some serious competition, namely from Grunge-boy favourite Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. That’s right, it’s all about the West Memphis 3, and if it bleeds it leads. Also if Johnny Depp shows up to your appeal – that leads too. However, maybe the Academy will be as dazzled as I was by this utterly astonishing display of artistry, athleticism, beauty, and love. “Dance, dance; otherwise we are lost”.

What did you think of Pina? Are you a dance fan, or are you more into Johnny Depp? Drop me a line or two in the comments section below.

And the BAFTA winners are . . .

BEST FILM

The Artist – Thomas Langmann

LEADING ACTOR

Jean Dujardin – The Artist

LEADING ACTRESS

Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady

DIRECTOR

The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius

ANIMATED FILM

Rango – Gore Verbinski

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan

DOCUMENTARY

Senna – Asif Kapadia

THE ORANGE WEDNESDAYS RISING STAR AWARD

Adam Deacon

OUTSTANDING BRITISH CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA

John Hurt

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Octavia Spencer – The Help

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Tomas Alfredson, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo, Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christopher Plummer – Beginners

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Hugo – Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER

Tyrannosaur – Paddy Considine (Director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (Producer)

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

The Skin I Live In – Pedro Almodóvar, Agustin Almodóvar

MAKE UP & HAIR

The Iron Lady – Marese Langan

COSTUME DESIGN

The Artist – Mark Bridges

CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Artist – Guillaume Schiffman

EDITING

Senna – Gregers Sall, Chris King

SOUND

Hugo – Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty, Tom Fleischman, John Midgley

ORIGINAL MUSIC

The Artist – Ludovic Bource

SHORT FILM ANIMATION

A Morning Stroll – Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe

SHORT FILM

Pitch Black Heist – John Maclean, Gerardine O’Flynn

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – Tim Burke, John Richardson, Greg Butler, David Vickery

What are your thoughts on the winners? Why don’t you share a little diddy in the comments section.