Thursday, February 25, 2010
The Lady and the Reaper: Easily my favorite. I don't think I can say much more without spoiling it, so scrollover if you really want to know: it's hilarious. What starts out as a touching moment of an old lady dying and getting ready to see her dead husband quickly becomes a madcap, slapstick, Chuck Jones-esque romp. Totally fantastic and has a great post-credits sequence involving Cerberus.
Granny O'Grimms Sleeping Beauty: Very funny. A revisionist version of Sleeping Beauty told by an Irish grandmother to a terrified little girl. Her lullaby at the end is particularly fantastic.
French Roast: Fairly straight forward. Enjoyable, but nothing special. A snooty businessman loses his wallet and can't pay for his espresso, so he just keeps ordering more to stall for time. Some nice characterizations.
A Matter of Loaf and Death: Wallace and Gromit are always enjoyable and the smart money is on them to win, but it's hardly their best outing. Doesn't stray too far from the tone of a Close Shave or the Wrong Trousers, both of which are better.
Logorama: I still don't know what to make of this one. An L.A. universe completely constructed out of corporate logos with Ronald McDonald going on a Joker-esque rampage. Violent, crude, and unsettling (all those logos?). It's very strange.
Partly Cloudy: Pixar. It starts out terribly (I believe I was grimacing at the screen). I couldn't figure out why Pixar had gone and made something so... cute. Luckily, it's to set up the introduction of our protagonists. Basically, clouds make babies and puppies and kittens for storks to deliver (so. many. anime. eyes.), but our cloud makes babies for the not-so-cute animals that his unlucky stork gets to deliver. Really great.
Runaway: Surrealist Canadian piece about a runaway train. Very weird, and could maybe have been tightened up a tiny bit, but otherwise is zany and fun.
The Kinematograph: Meh. About a guy so obsessed with inventing moving pictures that he neglects his wife. The scene of him working on his latest idea is beautiful, but the figures themselves looked as if they were carved out of wood, which was jarring.
Also - Saw the first two films in the Red Riding Trilogy, and oh my god are they brilliant. They're anchored by two astounding performances in Andrew Garfield and Paddy Constantine, the supporting casts are fantastic and the films themselves are dark, realistic and completely riveting. The first deals with a reporter investigating child murders in Yorkshire and the economic disparity in the region. The second is about a police detective examining the handling of the Yorkshire Ripper case, as he works through a previous case he worked in the area as well as his personal life. They are absolutely an incredible achievement and I highly recommend checking them out. I've heard the third isn't quite as good, but I can't wait to see the loose ends wrap up.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Unlike naming favorite movies, actors don't really roll off my tongue. I had to think about it for awhile. (And favorite here meaning most enjoyable to watch. Not necessarily best, although the two occasionally go hand in hand.)
Sam Rockwell obviously. And Christian Bale is an easy pick, since he was my favorite before that. Past that, I guess a favorite would be someone I would be willing to spend $10 to go see, regardless of the material. Cillian Murphy fits that. Johnny Depp. Michael Fassbender, Matthew Goode, Nick Stahl, Dominic Cooper, Joseph Fiennes, Clive Owen, Ben Whishaw, Michael Sheen, Hugh Jackman, Edward Norton. I'd pretty much pay to watch any of these guys read the phone book. Oh - Derek Jacobi, too.
Also: Ewan McGregor (intermittently). Ditto Gael Garcia Bernal. Billy Crudup. Colin Farrell. Leonardo DiCaprio. Jake Gyllenhaal. Ryan Gosling. Casey Affleck. Timothy Olyphant.
Actresses? Much harder. While there are some actresses I really like, they don't get the same pick of roles, and there are few I would see regardless of the script. Angelina Jolie is really the only one, I think. Kate Winslet is brilliant, but I still haven't seen Revolutionary Road. Natalie Portman is reliable, but no Mr. Magorium for me, thank you very much. Vera Farmiga is excellent, as is Rachel Weisz. I would have said Winona Ryder when I was younger (come back Winona!). Julianne Moore is good, but I don't think I'd ever seek out her projects? Her name just tends to add an extra bit of credibility. Ditto Susan Sarandon and Laura Linney. Evan Rachel Wood is interesting, but favorite?? And it'll be interesting to see where Abbie Cornish, Eva Green, Michelle Monaghan, Ellen Page and Amanda Seyfried are in a few years.
TV? Even harder. I tend to think of actors for their particular roles. I love Jeffrey Donovan on Burn Notice, but half of that is the character, you know? David Tennant is good in everything I've seen him in, and I'd seek him out. But Michael C. Hall? Brilliant as Dexter. Michael Emerson? Brilliant as Ben. I might check out other projects of theirs, (but I didn't see Gamer). I'd probably check out something with Hugh Laurie in it. Gale Harold. Christopher Meloni is good. Lee Pace. Possibly Milo Ventimiglia and Nathan Fillion. Joel McHale. Will Arnett.
TV actresses? Portia DeRossi. Someone get her something new, stat. And Lena Headey and Summer Glau. Maybe Gillian Jacobs.
I think that while particular actors may peak my interest in a project, it tends to be much more the plot, critical reception, or artistry that convince me to actually pay. Unless it is Scoop, in which case - hey! Hugh Jackman wearing jeans! I'll pay to see that!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Next week is the Red Riding Trilogy showcase at the Kendall. The Harvard Film archive is doing Bong Joon-ho and John Ford retrospectives. The Irish Film Fest has a preview screening of The Eclipse, followed by the actual fest in March. (They may also be the ones bringing the Secret of Kells to Boston for St. Patrick's.) The Independent Film Fest is in late April. And the Brattle has seriously outdone itself. A Merchant-Ivory fest, a restored print of The Red Shoes, A Jim Henson retrospective, Season 1 of Twin Peaks, Big Top Cinema (no really - a whole engagement for movies about circuses - I LOVE circuses), and a Kurosawa retrospective. I should mention at this point that I've never actually seen anything by Kurosawa or Ford. I am a bad film student. But now I can remedy that!
Oh, and the Oscars. ;)
How much of this will I actually get to see? Who knows?! But I'm almost caught up on my Oscar films (White Ribbon, Precious, maybe the Messenger to go). Saw 4 this weekend:
Up: really, guys? I liked Kevin... but that was about it. A solid enough Pixar film, but not their best and not as good as Coraline or Fantastic Mr. Fox. Actually, I even enjoyed Ponyo more.
Up in the Air: the jury is still out on this one. I liked the acting, although I wouldn't have nominated Clooney and Anna Kendrick's meltdown doesn't quite click at first. And while I liked that Jason Reitman resisted a completely cliche ending, it still falls into the trope of 'you aren't truly happy without a traditional nuclear home life'. Ugh.
Food, Inc.: Not a ton of new information for someone with an interest in modern agriculture, but it's a good reminder of how awful mass ag is. I definitely need to occasionally watch little chicks being mishandled to remember why I try to be conscious of my food choices. It did also include the terrifying fact that 90% of soybeans in the US are now round-up ready. Ugh. Ech. Add to that watching the production of the weird ammonia filler that goes in mass hamburgers and I will never ever want to eat fast food again.
I did wish it had more at the end in the way of solutions. There was a lovely little montage about talking to your congressman about food safety and eating less meat. But considering the number of questions it raised, I wish it had provided more in the way of; the best thing you can eat, out of these options, is x, y, and z. Best case scenario? Veggies from a farmers market. Second best case... I dunno.
In the end, though, definitely worth a watch and definitely worth the documentary nomination. A well presented, engaging, widely encompassing look at the food system today. With a lot of information Monsanto and Tyson and Purdue don't want you to know about. And I enjoy pissing off big conglomerations.
The Cove: Totally brilliant. I really hope this wins best documentary. It's about dolphin slaughter in Japan, told in a Mission Impossible or heist film style. It's an interesting portrait of an activist, a good overview of issues surrounding fishing today, and a thriller all wrapped up together. And while Food Inc. included some new hidden camera footage of slaughterhouses, the Cove is all about trying to get footage of what the dolphin slaughter is like in this one cove. Exposing something that people didn't want exposed. The payoff is astounding, for lack of a better word. Completely awful and terrible, but well worth watching. And the film ends on an upbeat note as we see some of the changes that are being affected as a result of activism.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzPx8F-Z4VY
[Didn't you think at first it was Lisbeth's brain memorizing images? And how cool was the bit at the end?]
The Man Who Married Himself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rzKLAz3FaQ
Friday, February 12, 2010
Anyways - the oughts. The decade following the best ever year in film (no, it wasn’t 1939, it was 1999, but that’s another blog piece altogether).
Yes, there are some films I still haven’t seen from this decade (25th Hour, Lantana, Half Nelson, Elephant, Cache, There Will Be Blood, Hunger, Old Joy etc.), but I think it’s safe to say I’ve seen a fairly sizable chunk of major releases.
A couple of notes about the list. I’ve separated them out into groups of 20, but within those divisions, they are listed alphabetically. I could barely settle on fifths. I couldn’t possibly rank all 100. I’d be stuck in perpetual indecision. Yes, my write-ups from 2009 are repeated. It’s my writing. I can do that.
While I whine and moan about the Academy giving short shrift to anything but serious, important dramas, nearly the entire top 40 is just that. What can I say? Either I’ve been brainwashed into thinking serious means good, or we just had a particularly good decade for drama. While some of the other films have shifted from second to third or fifth to fourth, the top 20 is pretty set for me. They’re just the movies that spoke to me the most and that I think can reasonably argued to be the best.
One would think I could just put together a top 10 list for each year, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Turns out I did not care much for films made in 2000 (3) or 2004 (5) and 2006 and 2007 were the best years in film for me (with 16 each) followed closely by 2003 (15). [Oscar winners for each of those years; 2000 – Gladiator, ugh, 2003 – Return of the King, 2004 – Million Dollar Baby, 2006 – The Departed, 2007 – No Country for Old Men).
Number of times Sam Rockwell appears in the top 100: 4
Number of foreign films: approximately 29 (some of the British ones iffy as to who was the majority producer, so it’s a rough guesstimate)
Number of animated films: 7 (that includes Mirrormask, and excludes ones with only scenes of animation, like Hedwig and Across the Universe).
Number of times Christian Bale appears: 6. Trufax.
The filmmakers that really stand out from this decade? Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman, and the Prestige), Peter Jackson (LotR and King Kong), Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire), the Coens (O Brother Where art Thou, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man), and Charlie Kaufman (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine, Synecdoche
And seeing as most of the top 20 are notable for gorgeous camera work, a quick note on cinematography. This was the decade in which we lost Conrad Hall (Road to Perdition, American Beauty), Roger Deakins continued his rise to preeminence (O Brother Where Art Thou, the Man Who Wasn’t There, Jarhead, No Country for Old Men, the Assassination of Jesse James, the Reader, A Serious Man), Emmanuel Lubezki continued doing incredible work (Y tu Mama Tambien, the New World, Children of Men – my favorite of his, Sleepy Hollow, missed the decade by a year – and fun fact, Roger Deakins was DP for the New York bits), Wally Pfister worked as Christopher Nolan’s DP, giving each of his films their distinctive look (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, the Prestige, the Dark Knight, and Inception due next year), Seamus McGarvey not only did great work on the Hours, but was responsible for the jaw-dropping tracking shot in Atonement which was the only camera work more noted than Children of Men this decade, Barry Ackroyd shot both the Hurt Locker and the Wind that Shakes the Barley and finally, Dion Beebe did amazing work on Memoirs of a Geisha (which mostly had cinematography going for it), Chicago and Equilibrium. Are there any women on that list? Nooooo… Because no matter how much you think directing is a boys club, cinematography is worse. Anyways…
Today's Section? The honorable mentions. We shall start at the bottom and work our way up, thus increasing antici....pation till the top bracket [for all two of you out there].
Honorable mentions, or, good flicks to add to your netflix queue; Wristcutters: A Love Story, Igby Goes Down, Kiss kiss bang bang, The Lookout, Grindhouse, Wanted, Sin City, Kill Bill, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, A Single Man, Fish Tank (These last 3 may eventually make it onto the top 100 list, Fish Tank in particular being wildly brilliant, but since I just saw them, the proximity might be currently skewing me towards them)
Friday, February 5, 2010
Fantastic Mr. Fox
A Serious Man
In the Loop
Abbie Cornish (Bright Star)
Rachel Weisz (Brothers Bloom)
Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds)
Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer)
Michelle Monaghan (Trucker)
Ellen Page (Whip It)
What? Dream noms. I can pick more than 5.
Sam Rockwell (Moon)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Ben Whishaw (Bright Star)
Brian Cox (The Escapist)
Michael Sheen (The Damned United)
Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man)
Colin Firth (A Single Man)
Best Supporting Actress
Rinko Kikuchi (The Brothers Bloom)
Rosamund Pike (An Education)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds)
Julianne Moore (A Single Man)
Natalie Portman (Brothers)
Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies)
Best Supporting Actor
Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles)
Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Peter Capaldi (In the Loop)
Timothy Spall (The Damned United)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Brothers)
Alfred Molina (An Education) (I'm actually a little shocked he wasn't in)
Michael Emerson (LOST). Because he should win everything forever.
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Lone Scherfig (An Education)
Jane Campion (Bright Star)
Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
Lee Daniels (Precious)
Tom Ford (A Single Man)
And if we had to let in one straight, white, American male:
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
A Serious Man
The Hurt Locker
The White Ribbon
Fantastic Mr. Fox
A Town Called Panic
The Secret of Kells
Mary and Max
Yeah, that’s right. No Up. [I'd like to point out that I dream-predicted the biggest upset of the nominations!]
Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds)
The Coens (A Serious Man)
Scott Neustadter & Michael Weber (500 Days of Summer) [Seriously? SERIOUSLY OSCAR?]
Best Adapted Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell (District 9)
Jane Campion (Bright Star – although this should SO be considered original)
Tom Ford (A Single Man)
Nick Hornby (An Education)
Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach (Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are)
(If I could pick just two, I'd hand deliver screeners for Abbie Cornish and Sam Rockwell. And I'm pretending Christian McKay could still be a surprise nom come February)
I accidentally left off In The Loop for screenplay - I think because it had been considered original for some and adapted for others, but I'm THRILLED it is nominated and really rooting for it. I also didn't do a category for makeup, but I didn't think I'd have to mention the District 9 effects. Maybe the academy voters also assumed someone else would vote for it?
Sadly, neither Christian McKay nor Melanie Laurent made it in, when I hoped they both had a good chance. And neither Sam nor Abbie pulled off a thrilling upset. C'est la vie. I did read this good news (via Notes on a Season at the LA Times);
"Another Fox label, Searchlight, has already jumped into next year's Oscar race by announcing Wednesday their acquisition of a new true life drama, "Betty Anne Waters" with Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell in the story of a woman who became a lawyer to find a way to free her wrongly imprisoned brother. Bloggers, Nikki Finke among them, are speculating as to why Searchlight would jump back into business with Swank on the heels of the disappointing box office and critical reception for "Amelia" which proved to be an Oscar non-starter. Could it be because this is a crackerjack drama and remarkable story, a grittier "Blind Side" which features a great performance by Swank, back in her comfort zone and a brilliant one by Sam Rockwell that could make him as inevitable a supporting actor contender next year as Christoph Waltz is this season? The answer is, yes it could. Searchlight is as shrewd as they get. They plan a fall 2010 release with award recognition the driving force. They will get it."
I mourned, I moved on, I occasionally played in Cinematical's version of the top 5 to keep some of my skills sharp.
Then Flick Picks started up. I'm not sold on it. Basically, you run a theater and get points based on the revenues from your seven screens. I've been told it's a similar approach to fantasy football. Anyways, aside from the fact that if I actually were to run a movie theater, it would have cushy couches and armchairs, beer, pizza, and an art house repertoire, you basically are trying to guess the top 5 films, broken into 1-2 and 3-5. It's not as difficult. The scoring results aren't well laid-out. And the whole thing is not very intuitive to me.
But I would like to point out that my theater, the Carnivale, is ranked 45th in my division. That is all.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
No exciting upsets that I immediately noticed. While I didn't hold out much hope for Abbie Cornish, I did think there was a good chance of Christian McKay getting a supporting actor nod. C'est la vie.
I'm thrilled that District 9 made it into the top 10, and disappointed by the Blind Side (how's that Razzie nomination, Sandra??)
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
Well, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds and A Serious Man all deserve to be on there. And without 10 nominees, I doubt they would have all gotten a chance. However, I don't think the nods will help box office at this point.
James Cameron -- Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow -- The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino -- Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels -- Precious
Jason Reitman -- Up in the Air
Predictable, but mostly a good group. Kathryn!!!
Hurrah for Jeremy Renner and Colin Firth! And I'm glad Invictus got a little love somewhere. However, I'm fairly certain this is Jeff Bridges' to lose. Besides, Sam Rockwell gave the best performance of the year, so it doesn't really matter who wins this.
Ugh. Ugh Ugh. Just because Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep are grande dames, DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO NOMINATE THEM.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Again, happy for Matt Damon, crushed for Christian McKay.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Huh - I haven't heard great things about Maggie's performance, but I like her as an actress, so I'm glad she's got her first academy award nom.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Marc Boal -- The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino -- Inglourious Basterds
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman -- The Messenger
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen -- A Serious Man
Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy -- Up
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell -- District 9
Nick Hornby -- An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche -- In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher -- Precious
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner -- Up in the Air
Hurrah for In the Loop!! Bright Star should be included, but then again, it should have been placed in Original, so....
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coraline -- Henry Selick
Fantastic Mr Fox -- Wes Anderson
The Princess and the Frog -- John Musker and Ron Clements
The Secret of Kells -- Tomm Moore
Up -- Pete Docter
Yay for The Secret of Kells! I'm so excited that something almost totally unknown got a mention.
BEST ART DIRECTION
Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
Nine: Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
Sherlock Holmes: Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Young Victoria: Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray
Avatar: Mauro Fiore
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Bruno Delbonnel
The Hurt Locker: Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds: Robert Richardson
The White Ribbon: Christian Berger
This is shocking - no Roger Deakins for A Serious Man? You mean, people don't have to be nominated just because they've been nominated before? Also - Avatar? Really? Does that count?
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Bright Star -- Janet Patterson
Coco before Chanel -- Catherine Leterrier
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus -- Monique Prudhomme
Nine - Colleen Atwood
The Young Victoria
Well thank god Bright Star wasn't a complete shutout. Harrumph.
- "Burma VJ" Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
- "The Cove" Nominees to be determined
- "Food, Inc." Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
- "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
- "Which Way Home" Rebecca Cammisa
Yay Food, Inc. and the Cove!
- "Avatar" Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
- "District 9" Julian Clarke
- "The Hurt Locker" Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
- "Inglourious Basterds" Sally Menke
- "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" Joe Klotz
BEST FOREIGN FILM
- "Ajami" Israel
- "El Secreto de Sus Ojos" Argentina
- "The Milk of Sorrow" Peru
- "Un Prophète" France
- "The White Ribbon" Germany
- "Il Divo" Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
- "Star Trek" Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
- "The Young Victoria" Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore
Could there be 3 more different nominees?
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
- "Avatar" James Horner
- "Fantastic Mr. Fox" Alexandre Desplat
- "The Hurt Locker" Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
- "Sherlock Holmes" Hans Zimmer
- "Up" Michael Giacchino
- "Almost There" from "The Princess and the Frog" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
- "Down in New Orleans" from "The Princess and the Frog" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
- "Loin de Paname" from "Paris 36" Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
- "Take It All" from "Nine" Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
- "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from "Crazy Heart" Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
- "Avatar" Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
- "The Hurt Locker" Paul N.J. Ottosson
- "Inglourious Basterds" Wylie Stateman
- "Star Trek" Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
- "Up" Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
- "Avatar" Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
- "The Hurt Locker" Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
- "Inglourious Basterds" Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
- "Star Trek" Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
- "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
- "Avatar" Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
- "District 9" Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
- "Star Trek" Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton