Art­house break­outs

Two tiny movies are up against the ‘big boys’ in the Os­car cam­paign.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By JOHN HORN

HOLLYWOOD’S award sea­son bat­tle is sud­denly in full swing – lim­ou­sines are shut­tling film­mak­ers to and from the Four Sea­sons in Los An­ge­les, suites are fill­ing up at the Chateau Mar­mont and ac­tors’ en­tourages are crowd­ing the lob­bies of the­atres host­ing screen­ings for in­dus­try guilds.

Amid all the spare-no-ex­pense cam­paign­ing, Andy Gar­cia can be found driv­ing his own car around town, try­ing to drum up award vot­ers’ in­ter­est in City Is­land, a tiny movie that has proved its doubters wrong at ev­ery turn.

“We can’t com­pete with the money big stu­dios spend for awards,” Gar­cia said. “All you can do is your best ef­fort with what you have.”

Filmed more than two years ago and re­leased in March, City Is­land is one of two long­shot movies thrust into the award race from An­chor Bay Films, the two-year-old the­atri­cal di­vi­sion of di­rect-to-video com­pany An­chor Bay En­ter­tain­ment.

For most of its Hollywood life, An­chor Bay has spe­cialised in low­brow genre ti­tles ( The Dead Next Door, The Killing Ma­chine) and ex­er­cise videos ( 10 Minute So­lu­tion: Dance Off Belly Fat, Billy’s Boot­camp Car­dio In­ferno).

Now, with Gar­cia’s City Is­land and Michael Dou­glas’ Soli­tary Man, the com­pany has not only two art­house break­outs but also two po­ten­tial Academy Award con­tenders.

City Is­land grossed US$6.7mil (RM21mil) in do­mes­tic the­atres, more than Road­side At­trac­tions’ Win­ter’s Bone and more than dou­ble Fox Search­light’s Never Let Me Go. Soli­tary Man sold US$4.4mil (RM13.7mil) in tick­ets, more than Sony Pic­tures Clas­sics’ crit­i­cally ac­claimed Please Give.

An­chor Bay is push­ing Gar­cia and Dou­glas for lead ac­tor nom­i­na­tions (Fox will push Dou­glas for sup­port­ing ac­tor for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps). City Is­land and Soli­tary Man are el­i­gi­ble in other cat­e­gories, but their odds might be sig­nif­i­cantly poorer in the race for pic­ture, di­rec­tor and screen­play.

Al­though some stu­dios can (and will) com­mit more than US$10mil (RM312mil) to a sin­gle film’s award cam­paign, in­clud­ing tele­vi­sion spots and news­pa­per ad­ver­tise- ments, An­chor Bay can spend only a frac­tion of that, as its prof­its are so com­par­a­tively slen­der that any sig­nif­i­cant ex­pen­di­tures would wipe out a film’s earn­ings.

An­chor Bay has spent about US$3mil (RM9.4mil) buy­ing and re­leas­ing the film, and be­cause An­chor Bay col­lects about half of the box-of­fice re­ceipts, it will need video and tele­vi­sion rev­enue to make a profit. The com­pany de­clined to say how much it was com­mit­ting to its City Is­land and Soli­tary Man award ef­forts, but it is likely not more than sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars for each film.

“An­chor Bay doesn’t pre­tend to be a com­peti­tor with the ma­jor stu­dios and the ad­ver­tis­ing bud­gets they have,” said Kevin Kasha, the com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for world­wide ac­qui­si­tions. “Ad­ver­tis­ing is ter­rific, but it all comes down to the per­for­mances in the film.” ‘We can’t com­pete with the money big stu­dios spend for awards,’ says Andy Gar­cia.

Sup­port­ing Ac­tress

Bri­tish ac­tress Les­ley Manville is a vet­eran of such Mike Leigh films as Vera Drake and All Or Noth­ing, but she is lit­tle known in Hollywood.

That’s chang­ing with Leigh’s An­other Year, in which Manville is the mir­ror re­verse of Sally Hawkins’ eter­nal op­ti­mist in the di­rec­tor’s 2008 film Happy-Go-Lucky.

Manville is heart­break­ing as a lovelorn woman who sees ev­ery­one around her get­ting at least some of what they want, while she per­pet­u­ally holds an empty glass.

While re­views are mixed at best for Tyler Perry’s For Col­ored Girls, the en­sem­ble drama does of­fer some ex­cel­lent per­for­mances, with Loretta Devine and Kimberly Elise among the stand­outs.

Other pos­si­bil­i­ties: He­lena Bon­ham Carter ( The King’s Speech), Mar­ion Cotil­lard ( In­cep­tion), Min­nie Driver ( Con­vic­tion), Ce­cile de France ( Here­after), Greta Ger­wig ( Green­berg), Gemma Jones ( You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), Keira Knight­ley ( Never Let Me Go), Mila Ku­nis ( Black Swan), Ellen Page ( In­cep­tion), Rosamund Pike ( Bar­ney’s Ver­sion), Sissy Spacek ( Get Low), Olivia Wil­liams ( The Ghost Writer). – AP

In City Is­land, Gar­cia plays a New York corrections of­fi­cer with more than enough drama in his per­sonal life who dreams of be­com­ing an ac­tor.

Dou­glas plays a dis­graced car dealer in Soli­tary Man who is as ruth­less when hit­ting on women (he se­duces his girl­friend’s daugh­ter) as he is when try­ing to close a big deal.

Be­cause Dou­glas has been un­der­go­ing treat­ment for throat can­cer, he has not been able to work the award cir­cuit. Gar­cia has no such lim­i­ta­tions.

Gar­cia was a pre­sen­ter at the Hollywood Film Fes­ti­val’s awards gala, ap­peared at Screen Ac­tors Guild and Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica screen­ings in New York and Los An­ge­les, and has done ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sions at City Is­land screen­ings for the trade news­pa­per Va­ri­ety on both coasts. He also has granted fre­quent in­ter­views with print, ra­dio and on­line jour­nal­ists who spe­cialise in cov­er­ing Hollywood awards.

What Gar­cia and An­chor Bay need is for award vot­ers to see the movie so that they might un­der­stand why City Is­land was such a word-of-mouth sen­sa­tion. “A day does not go by that some­one doesn’t come up to me on the street and say, ‘I love City Is­land. That was my favourite movie of the year,’” Gar­cia said. “If peo­ple see the movie, it will speak for it­self.”

Kasha be­lieves au­di­ences can sense the heart be­hind City Is­land and Soli­tary Man. “Both films were labours of love and made in­de­pen­dently by peo­ple who had real pas­sion be­hind the cam­era and in front of the cam­era,” he said.

Al­though nom­i­na­tions may help sell more DVDs of the movies, they also could el­e­vate An­chor Bay’s pro­file in the in­dus­try.

“It shows that we can point to a suc­cess story – and that we can do a suc­cess­ful cam­paign for tal­ent,” Kasha said. – Los An­ge­les Times/McClatchy-Tribune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

In con­tention: Ci­tyIs­land is one of two long­shot movies thrust into the Os­car award race from An­chor Bay Films.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.