Friday, December 28, 2018
On December 28, 1895, cinema in projected form was presented for the first time to a paying audience by two French brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumiere (pictured above), owners of a photographic studio in Lyons. They went to Paris to demonstrate their cinématographe -- the name they'd given their combination camera and projector -- by showcasing short films they had shot with their hand-cranked innovation.
According to legend: At the Grand Café at 14 Boulevard des Capucines, a man stood outside the building all day on December 28, handing out programs to passers-by. But cold weather kept many people from stopping. As a result, only 33 tickets were sold for the first show.
When the lights went down that evening in a makeshift theater in the basement of the Grand Café, a white screen was lit up with a photographic projection showing the doors of the Lumiere factory in Lyon. Without warning, the factory doors were flung open, releasing a stream of workers... and, wonder of wonders, everything moved. The audience was stunned.
This first film was entitled La sortie de l'usine Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). Ten more short scenes followed, each reel roughly 17 meters in length, including Baby's Dinner (kinda-sorta the first home movie by proud parents, later echoed by Spike Lee in Lumiere & Company) and The Sprinkler Sprinkled (arguably the first slapstick comedy, involving a man, his garden hose and a practical joker).
Within a week, with no advertising but word of mouth, more than 2,000 spectators visited the Grand Café each day, each paying the admission price of one franc. The crowds were so huge, police had to be called in to maintain order. The age of cinema had begun. Vive le cinema.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
This just in: The Houston Film Critics Society — the venerable organization that counts yours truly as a founding member — has announced nominations for the 12th annual HFCS movie awards. Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite leads the pack with seven nominations. Close behind: Black Panther and If Beale Street Could Talk, each with six nods, including Best Picture; and A Star is Born and Vice, each with five nominations, including Best Picture. Other Best Picture contenders are BlackKklansman, Eighth Grade, First Reformed, Green Book, Hereditary and Roma.
Winners will be announced Jan. 3, 2019 during an awards program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The event, which kicks off at 7 pm, will be open to the public at no charge. No, really. Free admission. Honest. You can reserve your tickets here.
And here is a full list of nominees:
A Star is Born, Black Panther, BlackKklansman, Eighth Grade, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book, Hereditary, Roma, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born; Alfonso Cuaron, Roma; Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk; Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Adam McKay, Vice
Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born; Ethan Hawke, First Reformed; Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody; Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Glenn Close, The Wife; Toni Collette, Hereditary; Olivia Colman, The Favourite; Lady Gaga, A Star is Born; Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book; Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy; Adam Driver, BlackKklansman; Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Vice; Claire Foy, First Man; Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Emma Stone, The Favourite; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade; Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, The Favourite; Paul Schrader, First Reformed; Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk; Adam McKay, Vice
Rachel Morrison, Black Panther; Linus Sandgren, First Man; Robbie Ryan, The Favourite; James Laxton, If Beale Street Could Talk; Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Ludwig Göransson, Black Panther; Justin Hurwitz, First Man; Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk; Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs; Thom Yorke, Suspiria
Best Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther; “Ashes,” Deadpool 2; “Hearts Beat Loud,” Hearts Beat Loud; “Revelation,” Boy Erased; “Shallow,” A Star is Born
Best Foreign Language Film
Burning, Border, Cold War, Roma, Shoplifters
Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo, Minding the Gap, RBG, Three Identical Strangers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Texas Independent Film Award
1985, An American in Texas, The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, Support the Girls, Tejano
Black Panther, First Man, Mission: Impossible – Fallout
BlacKkKlansman (two), Mandy, Suspiria (two)
Best Worst Film of the Year
The 5:17 to Paris, The Happytime Murders, Life Itself, Peppermint, Venom