Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More IFF news

Yay! They added Saturday Night as the closing night film! They also added Cyrus, which I don't care much about, and John Hawkes (Deadwood, Lost - as Lennon) will be in attendance for Winter's Bone. Woot.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

IFF Boston

Woo hoo! The film list for the Boston Independent Film Fest is FINALLY up!!

To be honest, I'm not AS excited for this fest as I was for last year's. Maybe because there was less buzz coming out of Sundance? I was kinda hoping for any of the following; Animal Kingdom, Blue Valentine, happythankyoumoreplease, Betty Anne Waters, Centurion, Ondine, Four Lions, 12th and Delaware, Exit through the Gift Shop, Cold Weather, Cane Toads: The Conquest, Buried, Splice, Tucker & Dave vs. Evil... Granted, I'm pretty sure all of those will get released in Boston eventually (maybe not Cane Toads), so I probably should be taking the time to catch things that might not get distribution (like La Mission, From Inside, or The Escapist last year). Also, I know nothing about the Mountain Goats, but I just heard there is a documentary about their performance at Pomona put together by Rian Johnson called Life of the World to Come, which I would love to see at some point, but no luck here.

However, PERRIER'S BOUNTY!!!! YAAAY! I can't wait. I just... God, it looks fantastic: Check out the trailer here.

There are a couple that have been well reviewed, like 8: The Mormon Proposition and The Oath, which I just can't see myself going to. I'm generally less of a Docs person anyways. However, Marwencol (a man survives an assault by building an elaborate model world in his backyard) just got a lot of love at SXSW, as did War Don Don (about Sierra Leone), and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (self-explanatory) got great reviews at Sundance. Some of the others I'll have to look up to find out more about them. Erasing David looks interesting - a guy tries to go off the grid and see if he can escape detection. Anne Perry: Interiors I'm definitely going to try to see since I find it fascinating that someone who was a teenage murderer grew up to write murder mysteries and I've ALWAYS wanted to know more. I've seen the trailer for October Country, and thought it was a feature, not a doc, so I'm intrigued there. Do It Again could be interesting - it's about trying to reunite the Kinks. I've heard of American: The Bill Hicks Story (meh), Dirty Pictures (nah), Lemmy (meh), Life 2.0 (meh), and Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam (maybe). Finally, there's a doc on exotic animals as pets called The Elephant in the Room, but I'm not really sure what it would have to say, other than: Bad. Idea.

However, being much more of a features, gal, here's the section that I'll probably be at (other than Perrier's Bounty. Yay again!):
Cracks - Eva Green, whom I love, as a new teacher at an all female boarding school. Looks kind of thriller-esque.
Down Terrace - My wish-this-were-Animal-Kingdom movie. I'm being unfair - this does look interesting in it's own right. Filmed in something like 8 days, a father gets out of jail and wants to figure out who snitched on him.
The Extra Man - came out of Sundance kind of blah, but I think this is going to be the opening film, since Kevin Kline is coming? Anyways, Kevin Kline & Paul Dano. I like them. I'll probably go see it.
The Freebie - got some good reviews coming out of Sundance.
I Am Love - SWINTON!
The Killer Inside Me - Ah, the most controversial film of the year so far. Supposed to be violence that is actually shocking and disturbing, rather than glamorized. So of course everyone's up in arms. Will I go watch Jessica Alba being beat to a pulp? Maybe. I watched Sin City...
Life During Wartime - Todd Solondz's latest, which would be more exciting if I had seen Happiness.
Machotaildrop - This looks so weird.
Winter's Bone - Won all the awards at Sundance.
Cell 211 - A Goya-winning thriller from Spain about a prison.
Looking for Eric - Ken Loach's new film. I love him as a director, but the subject matter doesn't look too appealing.
The Good, the Bad and the Weird - a Korean spaghetti western with mixed reviews.

Also? Don Hertzfeldt's latest, Wisdom Teeth. :) My spoon is TOO BIG!

I think I'm going to buy myself a pass. It's a gift for myself for my birthday, and then I won't be stressed about getting to large films in time for a great seat.

So - not much that I'm dying to see, but I think it'll be interesting. Maybe I'll end up at more docs this time. I do wonder which are the After Dark selections. Cell 211? Killer Inside Me?

Now I wonder if B-Side software is going to still be running to help plan scheduling? Has anyone bought Festival Genius from them?

Of the films I'd like to see that are not at the fest, the following have been picked up for distribution:
Animal Kingdom - Sony Pictures Classics - 6/3/10, but has been moved around a bit
Blue Valentine - TWC, 12/31/10
Betty Anne Waters - Fox Searchlight - ?
Centurion - Magnet - ?
12th and Delaware - HBO Jul/Aug
Exit through the Gift Shop - ? - 4/16/10
Buried - Lionsgate - 9/24/10
Ondine - Magnolia - 6/4/10
Splice - Dark Castle - 6/4/10
Nowhere Boy - TWC, 10/8/10

As far as I can tell, these have not been picked up yet: happythankyoumoreplease, Tucker & Dave vs. Evil, Cold Weather, Cane Toads: The Conquest and Four Lions.

Of the IFF Boston films, I believe the Good, the Bad and the Weird, Perrier's Bounty, Looking for Eric, Father of my Children, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, I am Love, Down Terrace, Winter's Bone, and the Killer Inside Me have all been picked up. Probably a few of the others, too, but I need to go do other stuff now. ;)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Linkspam round up

Curled up on the couch, waiting out the rain and getting over a cold, so I thought I'd plow through my google reader and see what we have.

First up, AFI will be opening for Green Day in a summer tour. Punk boys from the east bay - oh hell yes. Be still my heart. Also - a new blaqk audio album is coming out this year. One song, Ill Lit Ships, has already been leaked.

Because we are masochists; the front-runners for next year's Oscars. Thrilled to see Betty Anne Waters and The Fighter on there, but y'all know how I feel about Robin Hood.

A bunch of cinematical columns I've been putting off:

What classics have you been meaning to see forever? Ah, yes, the 10-20 spots in my netflix queue. Along with Timecrimes, the 25th Hour, Half Nelson, Michael Clayton, Old Joy, Amores Perros, the Thin Red Line, and Lantana all live near the top of my queue. Hello boys.

Do you want romances to have a happy ending? Hell, no.Well, that's too harsh - generally not. Two of my all time favorite movies are Moulin Rouge and Shakespeare in Love, so I love a good sad ending. But I also like the Scarlet Pimpernel and Stardust, so a happy ending every once in a while is okay. [And how much better would the English Patient have been with the author's imagined ending?]

What should an Oscar-winner look like? Or why The White Ribbon should have won cinematography.

All of Hitchcock's cameos

Adam Shankman's best dance moments Not sure Heart and Souls qualifies, but I had totally forgotten that film! Every movie is better when set in San Francisco.

Action movies and the girl who loves them

That pesky foreign film Oscar

Like Best in Show. But real. And with rabbits.

Why I'll always like Angelina Jolie

How open are you, movie-wise? One of my co-workers derided me the other day for liking everything. To which I countered, I like anything that's done well. I enjoy a great horror film as much as a great drama (mostly). I don't understand people who will only go see rom-coms (for many reasons).

What it means to be a film critic in 2010

Not surprisingly, I love Lady Gaga's new video (product placement aside). Although I find it odd that it came out so much later than the single.

Related, and weird, and hey! That was Gwen Stefani, not Gaga! Gaga in Wonderland.

Hey, remember how I was talking about Suck? Now it has a trailer.

Film industry by the numbers

Ronald Searle's first interview in 35 years (scroll down)

Friday, March 12, 2010


So on a personal note, I just signed up for this thing at my gym; it's a 5-week BURN challenge, starting the week of the 22nd. It's small group training (which I like) and cardio/weight interval training (which I like) but the cardio section is treadmills. I am not a runner. I will do pretty much anything that isn't running. But the challenge is for whoever is most improved, so I think I have a shot there. If you go from mollusk speed to sloth speed, that's far more of an improvement than ostrich to cheetah.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Here are my problems with the new Robin Hood Trailer:

1) Russell Crowe. Wrong, wrong, wrong for the part. So very, very wrong.

2) No, seriously. Who made this disastrous decision? He's bulky and scowly. He should be wiry (as an archer; he ain't shooting armour-piercing rounds here) and he should have at least an occasional twinkle in his eye. Merry Men. MERRY.

3) No, REALLY. They cast RUSSELL CROWE against Matthew MacFayden and Bald!Mark Strong. NO ONE is going to be rooting for Robin.

3) Lions and lambs? Do you need the Twilight money that much?

4) You cannot say "Never give up" without finishing "never surrender!"

5) Ummm... pre-Magna Carta here, guys

6) I know Robin is occasionally presented as a peasant, but really, it's much more common to have him as an aristocrat - not a common archer.

7) Did Mark Strong give all his hair to Matthew MacFayden?

8) I get enough daddy issues on LOST, thankyouverymuch

9) Are we storming Normandy? What's going on here?


11) Seriously, this shit is making even Cate Blanchett less awesome than usual

12) Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, Russell Crowe, Jonas Armstrong, Robin Dunne, Matthew Porretta (fun fact - Will Scarlett in Men in Tights), John Derek, Michael Praed, Richard Greene, Richard Todd, Sean Connery even, Patrick Bergen, Martin Potter, Patrick Troughton (fun fact - Sam's grandfather and a future Doctor Who), Cary Elwes, hell - throw in Kevin Costner and Vincent Cassel, and one of these things is NOT LIKE THE OTHERS BECAUSE IT IS BULKY AND SULKY AND DO NOT WANT.

(Wait, what? Robin Hood is in Ivanhoe? I need to see that...)


So... just heard about the Boston Underground Film Festival (BUFF, not to be confused with BIFF). Seems weird, but possibly fun. They have Red, White and Blue, starring Noah Taylor, which looked like it might be interesting. They also seem to have some shorts programs which are solely music videos. (I also thought Suck - the vampire movie with Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and... Moby - was playing, but it turns out it's a different film called Stuck! Ah well.)

Also, I just realized that Red Riding 1983 and the White Ribbon left theaters like yesterday. Whoops. At least 1983 is on On Demand and hopefully the White Ribbon will be on DVD soon. I have so much to see! A Prophet, Terribly Happy, The Ghost Writer, Alice in Wonderland, plus the John Ford Festival is on, the Red Shoes is playing this week, as is La Traviata and Terminator 2 and then NEXT week the Secret of Kells, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and the Runaways are all opening. Along with the Brattle's Big Top Cinema fest.

*sigh.* Life is hard. ;)

Monday, March 8, 2010

The top 100 - part 2

Honestly, Ross. I delay a few days...

[Part 1 is here. A month on and Imaginarium, A Single Man, and Fish Tank would all bump things on this list. I cannot stop thinking about Fish Tank. I need to go see Andrea Arnold's first film, Red Road, which coincidentally is one of my favorite movie posters. I think I can also definitively say that Red Riding 1974 and 1980 will both make next decade's list.]

Fifth Tier – the Runner-Ups
A Mighty Heart (2007) The true story of Marianne Pearl and the kidnap and murder of Daniel Pearl. Angelina Jolie gives a tour-de-force, devastating performance as the center of the swirling manhunt for her husband. The film paints (what feels like) an authentic portrait of Karachi as a city and the difficulties of finding one person within it.

Catch Me if You Can (2002)
A charming, breezy cat and mouse flick (think of it as the other side of the coin to The Departed). All the more incredible for being based on a true story, it tells the tale of Frank Abagnale Jr., who worked as a conman and forger, and the FBI agent who makes it his mission to bring him in.

Cloverfield (2008)
Honestly, this movie had the potential to go horribly, horribly wrong, and yet it ended up a clever, scary and thought-provoking flick. Basically a Godzilla film told from a first person POV via shaky cam, the movie has several very scary scenes, an unrelenting tension, and enough stylistic flourishes to stay with you.

Fountain (2006)
Unlike The Fall, the story of this film doesn't quite live up to its astounding visuals, but it's interesting nonetheless. A tale of undying love over 1,000 years, encompassing a 16th century queen and a conquistador searching for the fountain of youth, a modern day couple consisting of a doctor and his terminally ill wife, and a 25th century space man dreaming of a woman. Of particular interest to those who enjoy debating metaphysics, or the philosophies behind the Matrix films.

House of Flying Daggers (2004)
the epitome of Eastern action films. Visually, it revels in the scenery and production design, the action choreography and the athleticism of the actors. Frequently compared to opera, in which the story (in this case, a hunt for government rebels leading to true love) serves mostly to advance from one visual masterpiece to the next.

Howl’s Moving Castle (2005)
Nearly as good as Princess Mononoke, this is another triumph from Studio Ghibli. They continue their tradition of gorgeous 2-D animation, this time adapting a story by Dianna Wynn Jones about a girl transformed into an old woman by a spell, a sorcerer, and his castle which frequently rambles from place to place. Set against an epic backdrop of political machinations and magic, Howl's Moving Castle is imaginative and beautiful.

I'm Not There (2007)
Redefining what a biopic is, six actors take on varying aspects of Bob Dylan's personality. Some hew close to history (Cate Blanchett, getting to do the most accurate impression), others are merely impressionistic, like a young Southern boy who hops train cars and plays the blues. The sum total gives you an idea of what and who Bob Dylan is.

Inside Man (2006)
Spike Lee's slick, fun heist flick. It's got a fantastic cast and a great twist that holds up on repeat viewings. Not much more to say, but it's easily one of the most enjoyable films of the last 10 years.

Japanese Story (2003)
An Australian geologist is forced to guide a young Japanese business man out into the Outback. What starts off as a simple story of strange bedfellows slowly falling for one another eventually becomes an emotional and finely-tuned character study. Toni Collette's best work yet.

Kingdom of Heaven (2006) I think this one was sadly overlooked. Where movie goers were expecting something along the lines of a Troy or 300, they instead got a nuanced, historical portrait of factions in Jerusalem. It features a hero who cares about preserving harmony between religious and ethnic factions, rather than winning a war. Far too intelligent for a tentpole picture.

[See also the beginning of King Arthur (much more summer blockbuster and not as good), as told by Cleolinda in Movies in 15 Minutes;
"LANCELOT: So, back in the day there were these Sarmatians, and they got their asses kicked but the Romans respected the fact that they were tough bastards, so they let them live, only they had to be knights, and their sons, and their sons, and they all got their asses kicked and reincarnated into warrior horses and shit, and so on and so forth until I say, yea verily, better had those men died than have their descendants end up in this movie. And then it got to be my turn, and it was much of the suck.
AUDIENCE: "Sarmatia"?"]

Kinsey (2004) A great biopic about Alfred Kinsey and his revolutionary and controversial research on sexual behaviors. Fantastic performances by Liam Neeson and Laura Linney as a developing couple, as well as Peter Sarsgaard as Kinsey's assistant and occasional partner. The characters come off as fascinating, struggling, real people, rather than being idealized as some biopics are wont to do.

Marie Antoinette (2006) Kirsten Dunst shows that her precocious talent in Interview with a Vampire hasn't wholly disappeared in Sofia Coppola's dreamy, lavish take on the doomed queen. The film empathizes with the youth and naivete of its protagonist and gorgeously and hauntingly displays the insular French court system.

Monster (2003) A stunning performance by Charlize Theron. It's a love story between misfits and the story of a woman abused to the psychological point of no return. Theron burrows so deep into Aileen Wuornos' psyche that it's impossible not to sympathize with her, despite the atrocities she commits.

Mulholland Drive (2001) No, I don't understand it. But I still like it. Quintessentially Lynchian, the film features great performances during an extended musing/dream/fantasy/who-knows-what meditation on Hollywood. While I don't always understand what certain scenes had to do with the plot, per se, I certainly remember them vividly a decade later.

Perfume: the story of a murderer (2006) This film was never going to have an easy time of it, being primarily about a sense that can only be described in voice-over, coming from a beloved and best-selling book, and featuring an unlikeable and nearly silent mass murderer at its core. But what the film lacks in scent, it more than makes up for in lush visuals to set the scene. And as the murderer with the best sense of smell, Ben Whishaw is riveting. It is both an ode to sensation and a fairy-tale about obsession.

The Queen (2006) Yes, Helen Mirren is brilliant. But for one minute, please recognize Michael Sheen's criminally overlooked performance as Tony Blair whom she plays off against. His portrayal was every bit as spot-on and just as engrossing and I still can't believe he wasn't up for an Oscar. Do you see what you did, Academy? You made him turn to Twilight. I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY. Right - anyways, the film examines the British monarchy today through the lens of the few days following Lady Diana's death.

Stardust (2007) Awwww. I love this film. It's a snarky take on the fantasy genre. It has witches, swordfights, cross-dressing pirates, fallen stars, and unicorns. It funny, engaging, and really sweet without ever becoming cloying. A good choice for anyone who likes Labyrinth or Princess Bride.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001) A parody about summer camp, set in the early 1980s and featuring many members of the comedy troupe The State. I think this movie is hilarious. I will never, ever get over Chris Meloni in this. Yes, it's a bit hit or miss, but the highs are so transcendentally absurd that I still laugh at them years later.

X2 (2003) The absolute best of the superhero movies that have dominated the decade (yes, I'm aware Batman Begins is in another bracket. So sue me). It manages to blend fantastic action sequences (the attack on the white house is still incredible), allegory (Ice man coming out to his parents works so much better than Rogue's shoehorned abortion parallel in the third), drama and plot (Stryker makes a worthy and believable opponent), and deftly handles the introduction of new characters, such as Nightcrawler, which other genre films have had trouble with.

Young Adam (2003) A murder mystery set against the bleak backdrop of barges traversing the Scottish canals, it's an atmospheric look at moral aimlessness. Tilda Swinton, Ewan McGregor, Emily Mortimer, and Peter Mullan are all fantastic.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Predicting the WRONG Oscars...

Over at Awards Daily, you can try to get all your Oscar predictions wrong. So the ones you don't think have a hope in hell of winning. Here are mine:

Picture: Blind Side
Actor: Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
Actress: Helen Mirren (Last Station)
Supp. Actor: Christopher Plummer (Last Station)
Supp. Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) [I keep a running total of awards bestowed by various critics groups and awards shows at the end of the year? I think she is the only nominee not to have a single thing next to her name. No chance. I don't say this to be down on her - she's fab, but no chance this year. Glad she got some recognition from the academy, though.]
Director: Lee Daniels (Precious)
Adapted Screenplay: Precious
Original Screenplay: Up
Animated: Princess & the Frog
Foreign: The Milk of Sorrow
Documentary: Burma VJ
Score: Sherlock Holmes
Song: Loin de Paname
Cinematography: Harry Potter
Costume: Bright Star (*SNIFF!*)
Art Direction: Nine (I REFUSE to put Imaginarium.)
Makeup: Il Divo
Sound Mixing: Inglorious Basterds
Editing: Precious
Sound Editing: Up
Doc Short: The Last Campaign of Gov. Booth Gardner
Live Short: New Tenants
Visual Effects: Star Trek
Animated Short: French Roast

Least certain about Live short, since I have seen a prediction for every single one of the nominated films...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My super-duper oscar predicitons

Bold - Will win, Red - should win, Green - did win

Best Picture
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds (I'm ok if there is an upset here...)
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man (but really, it should be Sam Rockwell)
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education (but really, it should be Abbie Cornish)
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds (but really, it should be Christian McKay)

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious

Best Adapted Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, District 9 (I'd be okay with an upset here, too)
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell and Armando Iannucci, In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, Up
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Best Animated Film
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

Best Foreign Film
El Secreto de Sus Ojos
The Milk of Sorrow
A Prophet
The White Ribbon

Best Art Direction
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Best Cinematography
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

This one is tricky. The predictions are strongly for Avatar, but the guild and most of the season wins are for White Ribbon. I think it will triumph, because cinematography in a largely CG film doesn't make sense to me.

Best Sound Mixing
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Best Sound Editing
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

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

Best Original Song
"Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
"Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman
"Loin de Paname" from Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas
"Take It All" from Nine, Maury Yeston
"The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from Crazy Heart, Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best Costume Design
Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Young Victoria

Best Documentary Feature
Burma VJ
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home

Best Documentary Short
China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Music by Prudence
Rabbit a la Berlin

Best Film Editing
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

Best Makeup
Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

Still - no District 9? Really?

Best Animated Short Film
French Roast
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
A Matter of Loaf and Death

Best Live-Action Short Film
The Door
Instead of Abracadabra
Miracle Fish
The New Tenants

Best Visual Effects
District 9
Star Trek

Places where I am most likely to be wrong? A split on the sound categories, cinematography, and the shorts. I'd be pleased as punch to be wrong about best actress, though... Or costume (give Bright Star something!!)