Monday, February 28, 2011

RESPONSE TO OSCAR

The show was weak.  Franco looked way too stoned.  Hathaway certainly has what it takes to be an entertainer.  But there was zero chemistry between the two of them.  So many moments fell flat.  There was little humor.  Ricky Gervais would have been much, much better.  And as for the awards themselves -- it's not even worth writing about.  The Oscars has continued to push itself into irrelevance, year after year.  The King's Speech was the best movie of the year, and contained the best direction?  Really?  That's news to me.  At the end of the day, none of this matters in any real, tangible way, except to the 24 or so people who went home with awards.  If you're a film lover, it's impossible to hate watching the Oscars, because after all, it is a celebration of cinema.  But I've come to really resent the entire Academy circus and the fact that politicking and ass-kissing seems to be the only way people win their Oscars at this particular function.  It's all a sham.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

RILEYS IS GOOD

Welcome to the Rileys was very solid. Poignant without being overly sentimental and well directed by Jake Scott (son of Ridley, nephew of Tony), the script goes to some tough emotional places and the acting by Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and K-Stew always keeps you interested.  It was nice seeing K-Stew doing something edgy; she can certainly act if given strong material (I also liked her in Adventureland).  It was probably wise for Scott to tackle a character piece rather than an action flick for his first time out (the comparissons would've been brutal) and the script by Ken Hixon allows for some really nice interplay between the three leads.  Ultimately, it's a very sad movie, centering on loss and acceptance and characters who need a lot of emotional help, but the peformances make everything very rewarding, and Scott's deft directorial touches always keep the movie out of maudlin, made-for-TV territory.  I liked it quite a bit.

2011 OSCAR PREDIX

Here's who I think WILL win tonight, not necessarily who SHOULD win:

Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Animated Feature Film

“How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
“The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
“Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Art Direction

“Alice in Wonderland”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
“Inception”
“The King's Speech”
“True Grit”

Cinematography

“Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
“Inception” Wally Pfister
“The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
“The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
“True Grit” Roger Deakins

Costume Design

“Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
“I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
“The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan
“The Tempest” Sandy Powell
“True Grit” Mary Zophres

Directing

“Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
“The Fighter” David O. Russell
“The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
“The Social Network” David Fincher
“True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)

“Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
“Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
“Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
“Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
“Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)

“Killing in the Name” Jed Rothstein
“Poster Girl” Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block
“Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
“Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
“The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Film Editing

“Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
“The Fighter” Pamela Martin
“The King's Speech” Tariq Anwar
“127 Hours” Jon Harris
“The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Foreign Language Film

“Biutiful” Mexico
“Dogtooth” Greece
“In a Better World” Denmark
“Incendies” Canada
“Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria

Makeup

“Barney's Version” Adrien Morot
“The Way Back” Edouard Henriques, Gregory Funk, & Yolanda Toussieng
“The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)

“How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
“Inception” Hans Zimmer
“The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat
“127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
“The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)

“Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Best Picture

“Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
“The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
“Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
“The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
“The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
“127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
“The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ce├ín Chaffin, Producers
“Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
“True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Short Film (Animated)

“Day & Night” Teddy Newton
“The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
“Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
“The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)

“The Confession” Tanel Toom
“The Crush” Michael Creagh
“God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
“Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing

“Inception” Richard King
“Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
“Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
“True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
“Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing

“Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
“The King's Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
“Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
“The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
“True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects

“Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
“Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell
“Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb
“Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

“127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
“The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
“Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
“True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Winter's Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)

“Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
“The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
“Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
“The King's Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

CURIOUS -- BIG TIME

Saturday, February 26, 2011

COLORFUL, FUN, & SAD

As expected, Toy Story 3 had me crying like a baby.  What is it with Pixar?  They HAVE to make you cry even when you just want to look at cute, colorful toys running amok.  While not on the same level as Wall*E or Up or Ratatouille, this third entry in the ridiculously successful series of films takes a poignant turn (the lead kid is off to college; which toys will he bring with?) towards the last third of the narrative, while most of the rest of he movie deals in action-oriented-fashion with Woody, Buzz Lightyear and company trying to escape from an otherwise peaceful looking day care center, which is ruled via dictatorship by a neglected stuffed bear who has a serious axe to grind.  The action is madcap, the emotions ring true, and the script piles on witty dialogue exchanges and double entendres (the stuff with Ken and Barbie is priceless).  So...it's a nice little animated movie with a big heart...however...it's a crime that it's taking up one of the top 10 slots at the Oscars this year.  Hands down it should win in the BEST ANIMATED category.  But with so many masterpiece-level films NOT getting nominated in the live action category, and to have this movie nominted twice, it just feels like a shame.  That being said, it's yet another homerun for the creative team at Pixar.   

Friday, February 25, 2011

AWESOME

MOVIES FOR THE OSCAR WEEKEND

Hall Pass looks funny.  Really funny.  Not sure when/if I'll see it in theaters, or if I'll just wait for the Blu Ray, but I definitely want to see it.  Judging from the trailers, it seems to be a return-to-form for the Farrelly brothers.

From Netflix is Welcome to the Rileys with James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart. 

Mesrine arrived yesterday in the mail -- can't wait to check that out.

So...it will probably be yet another weekend without a trip to the theater.  This is getting very old.

All of that changes in March:  The Adjustment Bureau, Battle: Los Angeles, Paul, Rango, and Sucker Punch are all mandatory big-screen experiences.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

COMING SOON

April 5th, to be exact.  What a glorious little film.  I love that this was nominated back in 1995 for best picture.  It's easily one of the best family films ever made.  And the ridiculously amazing and severely underrated sequel, Babe: Pig in the City, is also a masterwork.  When will that one hit Blu?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TODAY'S BLU

Loved it.  Funnier than The Hangover.  Darker.  More thoughtful.  More dangerous.  Todd Phillips is on a roll at the moment.  Can't wait to laugh repeatedly with this one.

SIGHT UNSEEN

I normally don't buy movies sight unseen but in the case of Mesrine (Parts 1 &2), I decided to outright buy the Blu's because I just have this feeling that I'm going to love all 5 hours of this French gangster epic.  Part 1 (called Killer Instinct) arrives in the mail later this week while Part 2 (called Public Enemy #1) hits Blu in April.  REALLY looking forward...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MY BETTER HALF'S PICKS

I have an amazing wife.  She puts up with so much.  Not the least of it -- my enormous cinematic appetite.  She watches a lot of things that she might not otherwise have seen; some of it she hates (the more actiony titles) and some of it she loves (the more dramatic ones).  But I can't say enough how appreciative I am when it comes to how many movies she gives a chance too, and how she takes it all in stride.  Here's a look at her favorites from 2010:

The Way Back
Blue Valentine
127 Hours
The Social Network
Black Swan
Dogtooth
Catfish
Inception
The King's Speech
Please Give

Runner's Up:  The Fighter, Enter the Void, The American, Due Date, The Square, Hereafter, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone, Shutter Island, Waiting for Superman, Tamara Drewe.

IN THE QUEUE

Welcome to the Rileys
Capturing the Friedmans
The Graduate
Middle Men
You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger
Fish Tank
Get Low
The Secret in Their Eyes
Read My Lips
The Next Three Days
Conviction
Four Lions
The Sunchaser

ANTICIPATION RISING

CHARMING

Tamara Drewe was really entertaining. Nothing earth-shattering but a perfectly enjoyable British sex-comedy with a great ensemble of actors, a peppy script, and smooth direction from veteran Stepehen Frears. Gemma Arterton was excellent.  There are lots of laugh out loud moments, some funny naughty bits, great English countryside photography -- high-polished froth with a sharp sense of humor is what I'd call a movie like Tamara Drewe

OUTRAGE

Most Depressing Movie Award goes to: Waiting for Superman. I knew our public school system was royally screwed up but I didn't realize it was THAT messed up. I am so glad I went to elementary/middle/high school when I did. I weep for our future. Idiocracy here we come! The film is an eye-opener and a kick to the groin, all at once. No Child Left Behind my ass! It's the most damning thing I've ever seen. Good luck to ANYONE who has to deal with getting their kid into a public school, especially in the big cities.  Waiting for Superman is scarier than anything that Eli Roth and Wes Craven could come up with for one major reason:  it's TRUE and REAL and it's NEVER going to get fixed.  The idea that right in our President's back-yard sits the nation's worst public school system -- it's fucking shameful.  Watching these kids and their parents sit back through these "lottery" sessions that determine if their child is going to go to a particular school -- it's horrifying.  Waiting for Superman leaves you in a funk, and for good reason -- the dumbing down of our nation is happening RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES and nobody is doing anything about it.  I weep for our future.

Friday, February 18, 2011

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

Unknown looks decent but not sure if I'm interested enough to spend the money to see it in the theaters.  It looks like a very solid Netflix. 

I am Number Four, despite the involvement of Bay and DJ Caruso, just looks goofy. 

So...this'll probably be another weekend where I don't end up in a movie theater, which is starting to get a wee bit bothersome -- it feels like I haven't seen anything new in the theaters in a long, long time.  The only 2011 release that I've seen is The Green Hornet and that feels like ages ago.

From Netflix is the British sex comedy Tamara Drewe from constantly interesting director Stephen Frears.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ARRIVED TODAY


One of the top 20 American films ever made.  And one of my absolute favorites.  I can't wait to delve into this new special edition...

IS THERE ANYTHING LEFT IN THE TANK?

I'd like to think so but something tells me this is simply a new chance at a cash-in.  But with Craven/Williamson doing the helming/scripting, maybe they'll have some tricks up their sleeves...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PLEASE OPEN RIGHT NOW

I hate having to wait for some things...

TODAY'S BLU

The best popcorn-movie from 2010, Unstoppable hits Blu Ray today.  This is easily one of Tony Scott's most purely entertaining (and accessible) films in years.  Can't wait for it to sound like there's a train in the living room...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

F-ME RUNNING!

Top 5 De Palma for me.  I'd go so far as to call it "Vintage De Palma."  When Brian D. wants to make a masterpiece he goes out and does it (see: Femme Fatale, The Untouchables, Carlito's Way, Body Double, Casualties of War, Dressed to Kill, the first two-thirds of Snake Eyes).  And of course -- Blow Out -- his take on Antoinioni's Blow Up.  Has Travolta ever been better (other than Pulp Fiction, of course)?  This is a film lovers movie -- accessible for anyone, sure -- but will probably be best loved by movie dorks.  Like me.  Yes, the recent years haven't been too kind to De Palma (Mission to Mars and The Black Dhalia come to mind), but I'm convinced that there's still some greatness left in him. 

LOOKS VERY INTERESTING

Friday, February 11, 2011

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

As with last week, nothing is opening that I truly care about this weekend.  I still want to see Biutiful but not sure if I'll get a chance to see it over the next few days.  The Eagle looks decent (I'm a fan of the director) but it will probably play just as good on Blu Ray.

From Netflix I still have The Beat that My Heart Skipped -- will definitely check it out this weekend.

Watched and loved Exit Through the Gift Shop earlier this week -- what a fascinating, frustrating, and extremely entertaining little documentary.

Still really want to see Red, Stone, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

MARCH IS STACKED

It seems like nothing but bull crapola is headed our way at theaters this February.  I mean -- The RoomateSanctum? Just Go With ItJustin fucking BeiberBig Momma's House 9?  Maybe I am Number Four will be interesting; ditto Unknown.  Cedar Rapids looks funny; so does Hall PassThe Eagle looks solid if unspectacular.  Will Drive-Angry 3-D be fun trash or just plain old trash? But is there anything else?

March, however, is a totally different story:  Battle: Los Angeles, Sucker Punch, Paul, Rango, The Adjustment Bureau, Take Me Home Tonight, Jane Eyre, Limitless, The Beaver, and Win Win -- all of these are of serious interest for any number of reasons.

I'll probably spend most of February playing catch up with the smaller movies I missed from 2010 that have hit On Demnd or Netflix.

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

Biutiful with Javier Bardem opens in my area -- my plan is to check it out this Sunday.

From Netflix is The Beat that My Heart Skipped from the director of A Prophet.

HD On Demand options include:  Red, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stone, and I think a few others -- gotta check.  I've also been picking up Blu Rays left and right (Never Let Me Go, Monsters, Let Me In, Void) so I've got plenty to keep me busy during yet another snowy weekend.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

VOID LOVE

I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again -- Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void is the finest cinematic achievement from 2010.  I'm not trying to beat a dead horse but this movie is just fucking mesmerizing.  It's total outlaw cinema (thanks for that one, Michael Philips), something that many people will hate/have no time for. But for me, it's a shattering and totally engrossing experience. Nothing even compares. It's so rich, both thematically and aesthetically, that countless viewings will be needed to distill everything that Noe brought to the table. It's definitely a companion piece, of sorts, to Kubrick's 2001. It's a head-trip and a mind-fuck and an example of what I'd call "pure cinema." Noe is interested in telling his stories mostly with images, and considering that film itself is primarily (and most importantly) a visual medium, I feel that what he is doing is nothing short of revolutionary. It's takes someone bold and provocative to challenge (and set) standards, and even though he's made only three feature films, Noe is someone who makes me stand on edge as a lover of cinema. I'm interested in being taken to places that I've never been, and with Enter the Void, I got that over and over again. It's so compulsively watchable that you almost get a contact high from it -- I'm serious.  Check it out and you'll see what I mean.  Much to my pleasant surprise, the recently released Blu Ray is 20 minutes longer than the version that played On Demand last October -- it's labeled the "full director's cut."  And after reading some excellent interviews with Noe (sadly, the Blu Ray doesn't have a commentary or a making-of doc -- how/why did this happen?) it's clear to me that Enter the Void was a total labor of love (much like The Fall was for Tarsem) and something that could only have been made by it's maker.  Oh -- one more thing -- I know that the film was NEVER going to get any serious Oscar consideration, but, it has to be considered an EGREGIOUS error that Enter the Void was passed over for a cinematography nomination.  What Noe and his cameraman Benoit Debie did in this film is nothing short of trendsetting and form-pushing; cinematography lovers have the biggest present in Enter the Void.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TODAY'S BLU

I have always loved Pleasantville and my guess is that it'll look divine on Blu Ray.  Even after working for writer/director Gary Ross and his wife for roughly a year out in Hell-A and having them annoy the shit out of me on a daily basis, I still love this movie.