Hollywood has had lots to say about the American school system as of late and whether you choose to believe the information presented to you via eye-opening documentaries like Waiting For Superman or fictional phenomenon’s like Fox’s Glee it’s clear that our educational institutions are out-of whack at best broken at worst. No one has been able to depict this disheartening downward spiral quite like director Tony Kaye with his new film Detachment. In it the reclusive auteur focuses on just a few weeks in the life of Henry Barthes a substitute teacher who gets more than he bargained for when he takes a job at a fledgling high school and in the process gives parents professors and kids a much-needed wake-up call.
In this short period of time Kaye dissects the contemporary classroom with unflinching realism. The grainy worn film stock he uses for his verite’ photography coupled with topical subject matter ranging from child prostitution and teen suicide to parental negligence makes the movie appear to be more a documentary than a narrative feature but that’s where Carl Lund’s poetic screenplay comes in. His prose is simultaneously beautiful and brutal effortlessly supplying existential excerpts for star Adrien Brody darkly comic bits for fellow teacher James Caan and up-to-the-minute slanguage for the teenage students. He also uses this star-studded stage (the ensemble includes Marcia Gay Harden Tim Blake Nelson and Christina Hendricks among many others) to touch upon the larger sociopolitical issues effecting our schools and children lashing out at numerous initiatives/establishments like “No Child Left Behind” that we’re led to believe have been implemented to increase residential property values instead of grades. Though the script begins to sound like a sermon at times it’s not intrusive enough to become distasteful. Quite simply it’s brazenly truthful.
However excessive exposition can often hurt a film’s momentum and Kaye gets unnecessarily sidetracked with the painful back-stories of his characters. Brody’s Barthes is our central protagonist so the sub-plot involving his aging ailing grandfather is essential in defining him but the filmmaker forces insight into the lives of almost every teacher (and a few of the students) down our throats. Individually each vignette is heartrending but distracting; the majority of them have little connection to the main narrative. Collectively they illustrate many of the problems that contemporary families face and more importantly create an emotional crescendo leading into the inevitably tragic conclusion.
The brilliance of this casual buildup to the film’s climax is a nod to Kaye’s storytelling aptitude. I found him utilizing the kind of in-your-face filmmaking tactics that Spike Lee made commonplace in his early movies most noticeably with close-ups on a few actors who irritably address the camera head-on (like in Do The Right Thing). In addition he intensifies the action with quick cuts and aggressive push-ins that elaborate on each character’s crisis. Perfection clearly isn't his strong point; Kaye frames his shots sloppily at times and doesn't attempt anything groundbreaking but maximizes the potential of tried-and-true lo-fi techniques. His stylistic abilities are second only to Brody’s performance which is subtle sad and sweet all at once. We take an emotional and psychological plunge with the native New Yorker as he navigates a teenage wasteland of sex drugs violence and depression but it’s all just another day at school to America’s urban youth.
Long absent since his freshman feature American History X Detachment is a welcome return for Tony Kaye whose commitment to the integrity of this story is marked by unrelenting bleakness in its tone and uncensored cynicism regarding the state of our schools. He doesn’t portray every educator as a saint or every student as a sinner; through Brody he imparts on us the uneasy truth about the direct correlation between our failure as parents and the failure our children: we're one and the same. The true genius in his film is not represented in the text of his commentary but in his ability to forge an explanatory mosaic from his characters’ varying but related points of view. Because of this there are multiple mini-narratives that run through Detachment and all of them are worthy of your attention.
Michael Imperioli said it best-- there are "a lot of new faces."
That's the perfect way to describe the morning's 2005 Primetime Emmy Award nominations that turned out to be a great awakening for some of TVs newcomers, but a rude awakening for those first-timers who got snubbed.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chairman of the Board Dick Askin, along with a very un-gangster-like Imperioli of The Sopranos and Still Standing's Jami Gertz, not looking so Square Pegs in a cleavage baring bustier top (and at 5:30 in the morning, no less), announced the 57th annual Emmy nominations live from the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood.
Askin told Hollywood.com there are about twice as many new faces compared to last year.
And here's a little bit of trivia: Did you know the Emmy nomination broadcast is the only press conference with a jib camera spanning the room (That's right, not even the Oscars has one-you know, that long poled camera arm that can practically reach across a room.) This morning the jib had the best gig in the house; to focus solely on the golden girl herself-Emmy-high atop a platform. With publicists, agents and camera crews filling the theatre, it's not surprising this morning is an event all its own.
The biggest news came for those housewives, who aren't looking so desperate-all but two, at least. Each first-time nominees-- Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman-- all got nods for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, leaving Nicolette Sheridan and Eva Longoria, well, desperate. That feat hasn't been done since Golden Girls 20 years ago.
The nominated housewives are also going up against Malcolm in the Middle's Jane Kaczmarek, who has now garnered six nominations for her role on the hit Fox series, but has never won; and Patricia Heaton, who everybody loves in Everybody Loves Raymond (even this morning's audience cheered for the actress, who's already taken home two statues for her portrayal as Ray Romano's wife.) Romano and the series also got nods for Outstanding Lead Actor and Comedy Series, with Ray also winning twice before. We'll see if the third time's the charm. Peter Boyle, Brad Garrett and Doris Roberts also made the list in the Supporting Actor categories.
And you might recognize other first-time nominees, most of whom hail from the big screen-- Patricia Arquette (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Medium), Hugh Laurie (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, House), Ian McShane (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Deadwood), S. Epatha Merkerson (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, Lackawanna Blues), Debra Winger (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, Dawn Anna), Ed Harris (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, Empire Falls), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, Elvis), Geoffrey Rush (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers), Jason Bateman (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Arrested Development), Zach Braff (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Scrubs), Charlize Theron (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, Empire Falls), to name a lot.
Other silver screen favorites include Halle Berry for her work in Their Eyes Are Watching God, Blythe Danner for Back When We Were Grownups, Kenneth Branagh for Warm Springs, William H. Macy for The Wool Cap and Tony Shalhoub for Monk.
Husband and wife nominated teams this year include Macy and Huffman and Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (both for Empire Falls).
Gertz, who commented that she's "been around the block, as they say," has many favorites who are in the running to take home a statue, but she couldn't pick just one to win: "I just want all my friends to win," Jami said, who include Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series nominees Kiefer Sutherland (who's been nominated three times before for 24 and has never won), Hank Azaria (Huff) and James Spader (Boston Legal).
In other legal briefs, The Practice alum Camryn Manheim grabbed a spot in the Supporting Actress/Miniseries category for her portrayal of Elvis's mother in Elvis (to which Gertz did a perfect rendition of that famous Elvis accent), and Boston Legal's William Shatner for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Lost could only be found in one of the acting categories for Naveen Andrews and Terry O'Quinn for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, but it did nab a top nod for Outstanding Drama Series. And history repeats itself with The West Wing up for Outstanding Drama Series (which holds the titles for most Emmys won by a series in its first and single season with 9), but the Academy didn't salute the President (a.k.a. Martin Sheen) or Allison Janney, who always wins the Emmy. But Stockard Channing and Alan Alda won the Academy's recognition in the Supporting categories.
In a twist, those two high-tech mystery solving ensembles CSI and Law & Order also disappeared from this year's list in the acting categories, except for Mariska Hargitay for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, who's going head-to-head against fellow crime fighter Jennifer Garner (Alias), Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under), Glenn Close (The Shield) and Arquette (Medium). Nip/Tuck was also cut out of the running with the lead characters garnering zero nods.
Nominated shows coming in on top include Desperate Housewives with 15 nods, Will & Grace 15, Everybody Loves Raymond 13, Lost 12, Arrested Development 11, Deadwood 11, 24 11 and Empire Falls, 10.
HBO picked up the most nominations with 93, even without help from the ineligible Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos, but is down from last year because of the absence of Angels In America, which holds the record for most Emmy's won by a miniseries. CBS leads the networks with 59; NBC 54; ABC 51 and Fox 49-all of which have made a comeback this year.
"Another trend I think is the return of the broadcast networks. I mean, all of their nominations are significantly up from last year. ABC was up 65% in numbers and CBS was 75%,"said Askin.
And expect a few modern upgrades to this year's Emmy show.
"There's going to be a lot of things different. I can't tell you anything about the show yet 'cause it's kind of in the planning stages right now. We don't want to change it dramatically, but we want to kind of update it for today's audience," said Askin.
ATAS will hand out the Emmy trophies on Sunday, Sept. 22 at a black-tie ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
A partial list of nominees as follows:
Outstanding Comedy Series
Arrested Development, Fox
Desperate Housewives, ABC
Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS
Will & Grace, NBC
Outstanding Drama Series
Six Feet Under, HBO
The West Wing, NBC
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Zach Braff, Scrubs
Eric McCormack, Will & Grace
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
Teri Hatcher, Desperate Housewives
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Patricia Heaton, Everybody Loves Raymond
Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jeffrey Tambor, Arrested Development
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Peter Boyle, Everybody Loves Raymond
Brad Garrett, Everybody Loves Raymond
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Jessica Walter, Arrested Development
Doris Roberts, Everybody Loves Raymond
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men
Conchata Ferrell, Two and a Half Men
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
James Spader, Boston Legal
Ian McShane, Deadwood
Hugh Laurie, House
Hank Azaria, Huff
Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Jennifer Garner, Alias
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Patricia Arquette, Medium
Glenn Close, The Shield
Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Oliver Platt, Huff
Naveen Andrews, Lost
Terry O'Quinn, Lost
Alan Alda, The West Wing
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Blythe Danner, Huff
Tyne Daly, Judging Amy
CCH Pounder, The Shield
Stockard Channing, The West Wing
Empire Falls, HBO
The 4400, USA
The Lost Prince (Masterpiece Theatre), PBS
Outstanding Made for Television Movie
Lackawanna Blues, HBO
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, HBO
The Office Special, BBC America
Warm Springs, HBO
The Wool Cap, TNT
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Elvis
Ed Harris, Empire Falls
Geoffrey Rush, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Kenneth Branagh, Warm Springs
William H. Macy, The Wool Cap
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Blythe Danner, Back When We Were Grownups (Hallmark Hall Of Fame
Debra Winger, Dawn Anna
S. Epatha Merkerson, Lackawanna Blues
Halle Berry, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Cynthia Nixon, Warm Springs
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Randy Quaid, Elvis
Paul Newman, Empire Falls
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Empire Falls
Christopher Plummer, Our Fathers
Brian Dennehy, Our Fathers
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Camryn Manheim, Elvis
Joanne Woodward, Empire Falls
Charlize Theron, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Jane Alexander, Warm Springs
Kathy Bates, Warm Springs
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
Da Ali G Show, HBO
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC
Late Show with David Letterman, CBS
Real Time with Bill Maher, HBO
Outstanding Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow, PBS
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC
Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, Showtime
Project Greenlight, Bravo
Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Bravo
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race, CBS
American Idol, Fox
The Apprentice, NBC
Project Runway, Bravo