Friday, June 28, 2013

June Oscar Predictions

Let's do this!
Alright, it’s the end of the month and time for that obligatory predictions recap where I look at the predictions of the month past and tweak them ever so slightly so as to show that I’m paying attention to what the other Oscar bloggers, critics and film festival news has to say.  Yeah, and I’m watching the trailers and reading between the lines and trying to stray away from bias predictions.  Is it working?  My predictions aren’t changing a whole lot from last month, but they are starting to shape up slightly.  Trailers for ‘The Counselor’, ‘Blue Jasmine’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ have caused those films to either stay right where I expected them to be (I was waning on my heavy predictions for ‘The Counselor’, but was re-energized after that luscious teaser trailer) or move up (yes, I’m on the ‘Wolf’ bandwagon right now).  I also happened to see a few films and that caused me to either doubt their chances entirely (‘The Bling Ring’) or cement my assumptions that they will register quite well (‘Before Midnight’).  I’ve also thrown some wild card faith in our recent Palme winner (if it gets a US release I could see a HUGE push for Oscar love) and have spread ‘All is Lost’ into a few more categories.  Also, the lack of adoration for ‘Monsters University’ (still haven’t seen it yet, but plan to this weekend) has me putting more faith in ‘Frozen’, even though that teaser trailer looked more like ‘Ice Age’ redux than anything else.

Another questionmark came this morning when I heard that SP is debating ‘Foxcatcher’ and what they’re going to do with it.  I’ve had that as a heavy hitter since the beginning of the year (subject/Miller/biopic/Oscar bait to the extreme) and so I was contemplating what to do with this information and whether or not I should trim back the film in my predictions, but I’ve come around to feeling that this is mere speculation and until something concrete is announced, I’m leaving it where it is.  When the film is finished and deemed unworthy to be released this year, then we’ll have our answer.  I still see this as a dark horse this year.

Alas, let’s just get on with it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Talk to me: a look at Richard Linklater’s threefold letter of love…

I’m new to the whole ‘Before…’ trilogy.  I understand that I’m probably the one in a million who hadn’t seen any of the parts, but it is a truth I can’t hide from.  Back in 2004, when the internet was abuzz of talk over ‘Before Sunset’ and critics were raving Julie Delpy’s performance and the Oscars were nominating its screenplay I was under a rock.  Well, to be completely honest, I wasn’t under a rock as much as I was too lazy to want to watch ‘Before Sunrise’ and there was no way I was going to watch a sequel without watching the first film.  So this year I finally buckled.  With all the critical praise for ‘Before Midnight’ I knew that I was going to eventually HAVE to see this movie, and so I Netflix’d ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Sunset’ and had myself a ‘Before…’ marathon.  Yes, I got up early this morning and watched the first two films and then got in my car and sat in a theater and indulged in the conclusion to this romantic trifecta (or is it?).

In all honesty, I’m still semi-processing the whole thing, but I really don’t think one can talk about one film, especially ‘Before Midnight’, without at least addressing the others.  The films are so interconnected despite being about so many varying themes and subjects.  Quite honestly, other than the two main characters these films don’t really speak the same language and yet they feel so interconnected.

Visual Reviews: Sophia Coppola

Of all the new generation auteurs that have their legions of fans, Sophia Coppola may be my favorite.  She's at least, in my eyes, the most consistent.  Her four previous films have all garnered some sort of love from the Fisti's, even netting a few wins (and she's been nominated twice for Best Director from me) and having just witnessed 'The Bling Ring' yesterday I can say that I'm anticipating quite the showing in the 2013 Fisti Awards for sure.  But one amendment I'd like to make, or at least one giant misstep I'd like to address, is that I've never given her films the due they deserve in the cinematography category.  Yes, I nominated 'Marie Antoinette' (it was my runner-up) but 'The Virgin Suicides' and 'Somewhere' didn't even make my top twelve, which is really shocking to me.  How did I miss those?  Honestly, after a rewatch I may even consider 'The Virgin Suicides' for the WIN in 2000!  

UGH, we can't get them all right all the time.

Still, this series is dedicated to using the visual to flesh out the core of an auteurs filmography.  I select directors who have a knack for visual style and whose resumes I've seen entirely.  You can see the previous entries here.  

Coppola's films are a visual bounty, but not only that, I kind of love all these films.  I consider 'Lost in Translation' and 'The Bling Ring' masterpieces (yes, I know it's an early call on 'The Bling Ring', but I just can't shake it) and feel that 'Marie Antoinette' and 'The Virgin Suicides' are outstanding pieces of modern filmmaking.  'Somewhere' is the only film I'm less that ecstatic about, and even at that it is a staple piece of Coppola's art that one should savor regardless.

So, without further ado; the reviews:

Tuesday Top Ten

In closing up my acting Top Tens, here is my list for Lead Actress performances.  This was a tough one (aren’t they all) and I’m saddened to have left some of my favorites off the list.  Claudette Colbert was once in my top five for her performance in ‘The Smiling Lieutenant’, but she has been given the shaft here.  Annie Girardot was also on this list for a while for her towering work in ‘Rocco and His Brothers’, but she came up short this time around.  I also really wanted to site my 1981 winner and runner up, Isabelle Adjani and Diane Keaton for their career best performances.  Choosing between them is hard enough (Adjani is my #1 by a very miniscule margin) but leaving them off this list was even harder.  At the end of the day though, there were a slew of newer performances that were battling for spots here.  Swank (for ‘Boys Don’t Cry’), Sarandon (for ‘Dead Man Walking’), Weisz (for ‘The Deep Blue Sea’) and Cotillard (for ‘Rust + Bone’) were all considered and deserve the recognition and respect.  Amazing performances!

With that said, I'm in love with this top ten, and despite my adoration for my Supporting Actress, Actor and Lead Actor lists, I think that from top to bottom this is my favorite Top Ten!  Sheer perfection across the board.

So, here we go!

A Russian tease...

I don't know if this will be taken down soon, so be quick about this, but the Russian teaser trailer for the much anticipated 'The Counselor' is circulating the internet, and you can catch it here.  This looks amazing, and while the whole thing is dubbed in Russian, it doesn't matter...this translates rather effortlessly on the screen.  Cameron and Penelope look especially good, and the cinematography looks electrifying.  This is still at the top of my watch list, and with my faith on the verge of waning, this tease came at the right time to keep Scott and company in my Oscar predictions!

EDIT: OMG, it's in ENGLISH!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

I'd take 'her' any day...

Talk sexy to me...
Well, Scarlett Johansson is climbing her way back to the very top of success, and this breaking news (alright, I'm a day late to actually break this) is only adding weight to that sentiment.  I've been championing her career resurgence for a while now, and with the success of 'The Avengers', her recent Tony win and the fact that she's resigned to work with auteurs on quality (seeming) vehicles, I'd have to say that the future is looking very bright for this young thespian.  Sadly, the news regarding her voice work on Spike Jonze's anticipated 'Her' comes at the expense of the equally under-appreciated Samantha Morton.  At least Morton has two Oscar nominations to her name, but quite frankly that girl needs more work.  She's one of the best actresses working today, and so seeing her name get X'd off the list and seeing Scarlett's name added is bittersweet.  Honestly, I'd rather hear Scarlett talk so I understand this decision and look forward to the film.

Let's Review Something: The Bling Ring

Innocence lost due to the struggling life of stardom is something that Sophia Coppola likes to explore.  Maybe it’s her background, being brought up in a household that revolved around the arts and was always smothered by fame.  In fact, ‘Somewhere’, her least well known film, is said to be an autobiography of sorts (with regards to her childhood with her father).  Yes, fame, fortune and the emptiness that comes along with it is something that Coppola has staked her career on.  From the solemn romanticism of ‘Lost in Translation’ to the flamboyant ostracism of ‘Marie Antoinette’ to the quiet understanding of ‘Somewhere’, Coppola has exploited nearly every facet of fame and the disastrous effects it has on those caught up in it.

With ‘The Bling Ring’, Coppola moves away from the more intimate aspects of fame and dissects the dangers that that very drug has, not on those who have it by on those who want it.  One could call to mind the fascination Coppola flirted with in her very first film, ‘The Virgin Suicides’.  In her debut she immortalized average girls by focusing on the neighborhood boys caught up in an obsession of sorts with their very being.  Here, Coppola takes that obsession and kicks it up a few dozen notches, using the real life story of a group of kids who took their media fueled celebrity obsessions to the extreme.

I think we’ve all seen the videos.  They circulated YouTube a few years back, and E! made it a point of following these girls and their stories, especially the outspoken Nicki Moore, and so when we see something like ‘The Bling Ring’ it is easy to assume that this is nothing more than exploitation of the very thing that motivated these young women (and young man) to engage in such reckless and offensive behavior.  You are what you eat, and glamming up celebrity in this way can be seen as adding to the problem.

Watch the trailer and keep on thinking that way if you want, but watch the movie and find something very different.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A look at the career of Al Pacino...

Earlier this month, when I saw that the acting school subject for June was Al Pacino, I pretty much resigned to myself that I was going to write a piece about how his star has fallen.  Not just fallen, but crashed, burned out, crumbled and been raked into the grass and covered over by fertilizer.  Al Pacino is one of those revered actors who has become somewhat of a punching bag in his later career thanks to his constant hamming for attention and his ridiculous film choices.  He's still showered with affection and accolades thanks to his television work, but when he takes on yet another 'old guys with guns' theatrical bomb or plays himself alongside Adam Sandler in drag the world dies a little and we continue to remember why so few take him seriously anymore.  What is sad about this truth is that the younger generation of movie watchers are not seeing this man in his prime and so it becomes easier and easier to dismiss his talents or his contribution to cinema in general.  

This is where I come into play because I fell into this group for a while.  For years I considered Al Pacino one of those overrated thespians who rested on a blockbuster to carry his name and considered his talents marginal at best.  Yes, he starred in 'The Godfather' films and yet it was easy to attribute their success to Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, especially since the third film, which rested solely on his shoulders, is seen by many as a disappointment.  Judging the man solely on those three films and his 90's output, I was pretty confident in my assessment.  

Why did anyone defend him?

Poster Break: 12 Years a Slave

I'm heavily anticipating this film, but this poster is kind of terrible.  I get this 'Interview with a Vampire' vibe from it, and the Victorian accents are unfortunate.  Ejiofor is burning holes through this poster.  The only thing missing is for his fangs to peek through that emotionless expression.  What is it with these posters misrepresenting the films?  Like, why does it look like Ejiofor is a Victorian aristocrat and not a slave?  I'm still anticipating this like crazy, but this is awful.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

R.I.P. to the Boss...

I can't even talk right now.  I need some time to process this, but coming home tonight to this tragic news has certainly shaken me to the core.  Gandolfini has been one of my favorite actors for years, not just for his genius work on 'The Sopranos' but for his countless memorable films scattered throughout his magnificent career.  His face is one I've studied and grown to adore, and his body of work is surprisingly full of range.  My heart goes out to his family at this time.  This is a great loss, and one that will be felt for a long time to come.

57 Fisti Updates...

A Fisti Runner-Up

Well, not 57 updates, but an update on the 1957 Fisti Awards.  The update is that they are up and available for your viewing pleasure.  This year was a sensational one, but it boiled down to two films for me.  The image above is from my reluctant runner up in most categories (still a big winner with three Fistis), 'The Cranes are Flying'.  Click the link above to see my full ballots in all categories, as well as my winners!

Trailer & Poster Break: The Spectacular Now

I wish I could embed this, but I can't so here is the link to the trailer for 'The Spectacular Now', a film that up until this very moment I couldn't have cared less about.  I mean, I was slightly interested in the Sundance buzz, but I am one of those who found nothing of note in Woodley's performance in that dreadful 'The Descendants' and have avoided her face for the most part, and while I'm a fan of Teller's performances in both 'Rabbit Hole' and 'Footloose' (only good thing about that terrible movie) I just couldn't muster any anticipation for this.

I'm sorry but this trailer looks all sorts of wonderful.  Teller looks amazing, Woodley looks touching and the whole vibe has a very light yet impactful presence.  It doesn't hurt that this is from the writers of '(500) Days of Summer', which is one of the best films of last decade and one of the best films to reimagine the genre as a whole.

Anyways, the poster and the trailer are both major YES'S from me.  I'm all about this movie!  It looks SPECTACULAR!  I want this NOW!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Poster Break: Fruitvale Station

How did this happen?  Harvey Weinstein has a knack for selling his films, but this is bordering on tacky.  I saw the heaps of tack being shoveled all over the posters for 'The Butler', but with a subject this topical and reviews this strong, I expected a more serious minded campaign for this.  This poster is offensive.  I just don't understand how something this important could get reduced to you average crime thriller.  What is this poster supposed to represent?  Why does it look like Jordan is either contemplating a robbery or contemplating committing suicide, and what the FUCK is up with that tagline?  'Every Step Brings You Closer To The Edge'?  It doesn't even make sense in the context of the film and makes this sound like some random heist movie, which is hugely offensive to the real life families affected by this horrible event.  The more I think about this, the angrier I get.  This is just LOW.  Please, someone fire the asshole who designed this poster and burn all copies.  

Trailer Break: Frozen

So, this is Disney's big horse in the Animated Film category with this year's Oscar.  I have to say, I was expecting something entirely different from this trailer (Broadway cast/musical) but this surely was funny.  I know this is just a teaser and that the film itself is probably much different than this, but I got an 'Ice Age' vibe from this, which isn't a bad thing in terms of quality (I love that movie) but I am having more confidence (like it was ever wavering) in 'Monsters University' walking away with the Oscar in a cakewalk.  

Tuesday Top Ten

I nearly want to slit my wrists right now.  Like how am I going to turn a list of twenty-five into ten?  This has just been a nightmare.  I have a solid top five, but after that it just goes to hell.  I want to give a formal farewell to so many deserving faces and yet, do you really want me to list fifteen other performances I considered for this list?  I don’t want to do that…it kills the suspense and then what happens if I want to eventually post a top twenty-five?  I’ll just drop a few names, like Mo’Nique, Kathleen Byron, Lena Olin, Maggie Smith and Ava Gardner.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out the films I’m referring to; for now.
Wait, WHAT?!?!  You mean I didn't make the cut?  OUTRAGE!
I’ll also note that unlike Trond Nilssen, Carey Mulligan couldn’t breaking through this time.  I think she was genius, but I couldn’t justify putting her at #10 when her film (‘Shame’) is too new.  Maybe next year (most probably next year).

Alright, let’s do this:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Morning Link-Off

Links, bitches!

Big Screen Small Words reviews Warm Bodies (I'm intrigued by this despite the fact that I think I'll hate it)

Film Actually finds Cosmopolis rotten (I wasn't blown away by this film until I read the magnificent novel, and now I rather love it)

Victor reviews Man of Steel (I still need to see this!)

Fandango Groovers Movie Blog pits Scientologist against Scientologist by comparing their films...

Ruth wraps up her weekend of movie viewing and asks us which film we've seen twice (or more) in the same week...and the first one that springs to mind is 'Lost in Space', which I saw four times in a single week (back to back to back) and 'Planet of the Apes', which I saw twice in the same night (but that wasn't by choice and I slept through BOTH viewings).

And lastly, but not least, my buddy Josh over at The Cinematic Spectacle has put together his Top Ten Supporting Actress Performances list, and I for one an IN LOVE WITH IT (that number one is amazing).  I'll be posting mine tomorrow, if I can narrow it down in time (so hard!) but until then, check his out!

Oh, and this is a whole lot of WTF.

Trailer Break: The Wolf of Wall Street

Well, here it is.  The question now it, how does this look?  Honestly, this looks really freaking fun, a lot more fun than I expected, which has me second guessing it's Oscar chances.  DiCaprio looks like a lock though.  He looks the most comfortable and relaxed and downright entertaining that I've seen him in years.  Tarantino did him good, helped rub out all the tension and make him a little more natural.  Still, this looks way too comical/sexual/carefree for AMPAS taste, but this is also Scorsese so you know they'll at least consider it.  I like that the trailer doesn't really give away anything about the film.  I'm sure it has a darker angle that we aren't getting, and I'm sure there is some sort of a downfall, but you wouldn't know it from watching the trailer.  Also, is it just me or does Jonah Hill look like a serious standout and scene stealer?  Like, maybe I should bump him up in the ranks.  McConaughey could also be a legit contender (he looked really good here too), but he'll also be circling the Lead Actor category, and unless he becomes some Jamie Foxx sized threat for the win there is no way he's snagging two acting nominations.

Anyways, what do you think?  I'm not so sure about Oscar, but I'm far more excited about this than I was yesterday, and that is all that matters!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The greatest film ever made; the greatest pain ever felt...

Some films just reach a special place in your heart; maybe because of personal situations that mirror the films content, literally or figuratively. Maybe it's because the cause or moral is something close to you, something you firmly believe in. Maybe it's because the very essence of the film speaks to your love of cinema or your love of mankind. Whatever the reason, we are all drawn to and find solace in films we can connect to. 

For me, `Jules et Jim' is that kind of film. 

`Jules et Jim' is a remarkable story of two men and their unwavering love for one another and for a woman named Catherine. The film spans over 30 years and finds Catherine waltzing into their lives, taking root in Jules heart only to give herself to Jim. What is so moving about this film is that, despite their undeniable love triangle, the relationship between Jules and Jim never falters. Their bond is the central most important facet to the flow of their lives, and if their relationship were to crack and fade then Catherine would find herself alone; literally. As much as Jules loves Catherine, his love for his friend, his comrade, is stronger and thus makes the acceptance of Jim's love for Catherine more acceptable and understandable. It's almost as if they share the same woman to be that much closer to one another. 

This film is a beautiful depiction of pure friendship. 

Trailer & Poster Break: Diana

First, the trailer is somewhat underwhelming despite having that beautiful score to grab your attention (totally feeling the Journey throwback) but this is giving me a little confidence in a Watts nomination.  It really shows a range that I didn't fully expect from this project, and I can totally see how they are going to try and amp up the baity aspects of her life.  Some it it felt a tad theatrical (that run through the woods in her purple moomoo thing was a tad unfortunate) but I can see the controversy surounding her life to play big with audiences and Awards bodies.  I get the feeling that critics aren't going to be kind to this, but with the right push I can see Watts being a serious contender.

And then it brings me to the poster:

I don't hate this, like at all.  It makes the movie look like an erotic thriller though, and the picture looks like a still of Kate Winslet from 'The Reader' so I'm really not sure what to make of this.  I mean, is this real?  Is this a fan made poster?  Is that even really Naomi Watts?  Still, as a poster, I kind of love this, just not for this project.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Empty seats, empty lives...

Ok, so I just read this article at The Hollywood Reporter where both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas talk about the death of cinema and the 'implosion' they see coming in the near future where fewer movies will get theatrical releases, they will play like Broadway shows (in the theaters for a year or so) and will cost an arm and a leg to see.  I hope to sweet Jesus this doesn't happen.  I have a hard enough time getting to the movies as it is, and justifying spending the doe on the whole family is another thing all together.  I practically live and breath on Netflix rentals and my local Redbox, and if it takes a year or so for a movie to get a DVD release I will be way behind the times.  As it is I usually don't get to follow Oscar season as closely as I want to since I don't  get to see the bulk of the nominated films until the following year.  What if I was a whole year behind?  What if I couldn't see films like 'Argo' and 'Silver Linings Playbook' until 2014?!?!  I don't know if this is bitter old men chatting about how their latest pet projects almost went the way of HBO, or if this is legit insider gossip, but the prospect chills my bones.

A trip to the movies with a Movie Mixtape!

So, Fandango Groovers Movie Blog has started a blogathon called Mixtape Movies and it's quite the intriguing premise, so I had to bite.  Besides, this was a lot of fun (as most of these blogathons are) and so I couldn't resist.  Basically, the idea is to create a mixtape of sorts, with movies.  We select five movies that have no direct connection (actors/directors/material) and yet connect them by a common thread.  Then we select a wild card, which doesn't quite match up with that common thread and yet still fits.

For my common thread I selected THE MOVIES!  Yes, I know, that seems rather lazy or obvious and yet I actually had a thought about this a little while ago, about films that use the theater in particular to express the love we so often have for the power of cinema.  I wanted to select films that actually had key moments or scenes that took place in the theater itself, and I wanted to find films that used those scenes to either help anchor the film or to express our innate need for cinema.  Cinema is a powerful medium used as a form of self expression by those who work within its center and used as an outlet of sorts for the rest of us to feel, purge and even escape our own worries and pains.

So here it goes:

Super Sweet Blogging Award

I can't thank Josh over at The Cinematic Spectacle enough for constantly thinking of 'little ol' me' when it comes to these types of things.  He's recently nominated me for the 'Super Sweet Blogging Award' and here are the rules of the game:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.

2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions.
3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post.
4. Nominate a baker's dozen (13) of other deserving bloggers.
5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blogs.

Here are the questions: 

1. Cookies or cake? Cookies

2. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla, shockingly 
3. Favorite sweet treat? Mocha (seriously)
4. When do you crave sweet things the most? When I'm out on the town
5. Sweet nickname? Thin Mint (long story)

Now, for my nominees:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Odd casting choice I can totally get behind...

Apparently Sandra Bullock is hot right now.  Straight off her high profile 2009 Oscar winning year, she's been in demand and on fire.  Sure, she has a mess right now in that 'Heat' movie, which is taking a beating with early reviews and controversy over that hideous poster, but her career is hitting a re-surged stride that is undeniable.  She's getting a lot of early Oscar buzz for her latest role in 'Gravity', the sci-fi thriller out later this year, and news is a buzz at the moment about her possibly joining the remake of 'Annie' as non other than Mrs. Hannigan!  Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx are already on board, and speculation was circling around names like Queen Latifah for the infamous Hannigan role, but it looks like Bullock is in talks to take it.  Personally, I'm VERY partial to Burnett's performance in the 1982 film version (Fisti nominee for sure) and while I love me some Latifah, the idea of her cast in the role seemed a tad lazy.  This news is totally out of left field (who would have thunk it) and yet it makes total sense.  Bullock is a seasoned comedian who is exceptional with physical comedy, and playing a self absorbed drunk with a heart (however masked by her desperation) is the perfect role for her to take on.  I hope this movie is good (since I'll be stuck seeing it over and over thanks to my daughter's obsession with the story) but now I kind of hope it's great. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thank you life!

This is possibly my favorite thing ever.  Russell Crowe, crotch grab and all.  PRICELESS.  I need a few minutes alone with this video.

Tuesday Top Ten

Carrying on from last week’s ‘Top Ten Lead Actor Performances’, I’ll be posting my ‘Top Ten Supporting Actor Performances’ today.

Making this list was significantly harder than narrowing down my Top Ten Lead Actor Performances.  Over the years this has become my favorite of the acting categories, and I’ve grown to absolutely LOVE many supporting men.  Trying to etch out the perfect top ten was hard, and to be honest I saw a lot of names spill over from the Lead Actor side as well.  In fact, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Russell Crowe, Marlon Brando, Orson Welles and Anthony Hopkins were all thought of for a spot, but only two of them actually made my top ten (and not the two you may be thinking).  Two names that popped up that were very close to making the top ten were Jude Law (for ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’) and Dirk Bogarde (for ‘Darling’).  In fact, the only reason I hesitated with Bogarde, who is exceptional in ‘Darling’, was because I’m still not sure what category I’d consider him.  I really need to rewatch the film (I haven’t seen it in about three years), but I believe I had him in my Lead category for a while.

I also wanted to list George C. Scott for something (he was so good in everything) and Eli Wallack’s performance in ‘The Misfits’ is still one of my favorite things ever, but there was only room for ten (I should extend this to twenty sometime).

A shocking inclusion on this list is a performance that actually came out of 2011.  I personally tried to stay away from performances that came from this current decade since they haven’t, in my eyes, had enough time to really settle into that territory of ‘classic’ or ‘masterclass’ and yet there was one performance that has rattled me so much that I couldn’t leave it off (in fact, it ranks rather high).

Well, with that said and done, here is my top ten:

Monday, June 10, 2013

The unfilmable…

So the term ‘that book is unfilmable’ isn’t a new one.  In fact, I’ve heard many people spout it over the likes of films as recent as ‘Life of Pi’, and I myself have considered this idea.  Some stories are better told on the printed page, for they spin worlds or ideas or visuals that tend to get botched in the cinematic process. 

There are varying reasons a book or story can be considered unfilmable. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

5 Obstructions Blogathon: Obstruction #1

I want to preface this by saying that I absolutely love this movie.  Bias alert, but seriously, you can read here all the reasons why I find this movie amazing and fight tooth and nail against the critics and naysayers alike (even my friends have bashed this movie to my face).  The thing is, a lot of people are going to agree with this ‘obstructed’ review, so, like, I guess this is semi-legitimate too.

Like I said, I’m bias!

So, to set this up a little, I recently stumbled upon a blogathon started by Nostra over at My Filmviews where he, in reference to Lars von Triers ‘The Five Obstructions’, challenges us to write a review each month with a difference ‘obstruction’ or ‘restriction’.  For the first month (June) the challenge was to write a negative review for a film we love or a good review for a film we hate.  Since it is so much fun tearing things apart, I decided to take the time to rip one of my beloved films a new asshole to-to-speak.

And that brings me to ‘Les Miserables’.

Here goes nothing:

A day in the life of an actress…

So apparently Kate Winslet is pregnant.  I’m not sure how I missed this, since I worship her, but news dropped earlier this week and I’m late to this party.  Yes, insert all the jokes concerning her husband’s last name (that would be Rocknroll) because the combinations are endless and even legitimate considering that actors and actresses are notorious for naming their children horrible things.  Winslet hasn’t really gone overboard, although naming her daughter Mia Honey is a bit of a cringe moment, but her son’s name is Joe Alfie (I hate when people give their kids nicknames for actual names…why not name him Joseph?) and that isn’t all that odd really. 

Can I get another, please?
The biggest question though is, will this news solidify her threat for the Oscar?  I mean, it seems to be a trend with actresses.  You get pregnant, you get an Oscar.  I’m all for Kate having two of those golden bastards, so bring it on!

In other news, Sandra Burnhard turns 58 today.  Who doesn’t love this woman?  My wife fucking hates her, but I expect at this point for us to disagree on everything so I’m not fazed.  I’ll love her eternally for the crazy perfection she brought to Scorsese’s ‘The King of Comedy’ back in 1983.  

Seriously, she’s amazing.

In sadder news, Esther Williams has passed.  The name may not ring a direct bell, but scrolling through her filmography will certainly jog a few memories.  This former swimming champion turned actress worked with the likes of Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra and made quite the splash in the 40’s and 50’s.  It’s always sad when we lose those faces of yesteryear that we grew so fond of. 

And lastly, in a bit of casting news, it looks like that whole ‘who will play Hilary Clinton’ scuffle is getting sorted out and the name Carey Mulligan is rising to the top, despite early word that Johansson, Chastain and Witherspoon were the top contenders.  Get your facts straight, bitches!  Apparently this was always between Mulligan and current ‘it girl’ Jennifer Lawrence.  Lawrence is too busy, so Mulligan is allegedly getting the gig.  I’m all for this.  I mean, who really gives a fuck about Hilary Clinton (I was partially interested a few years ago when Russell Crowe was rumored to be playing Bill Clinton) but Mully makes things far more interesting for me and so I’m getting excited for this.  She deserves another Oscar nomination for sure…and win is more like it, and the script was blacklisted, which is a good sign.  She’s a goddess, she can do no wrong, so sign me up for this!

I make everything better!

Trailer Break: A Most Wanted Man

The video is hard to find, but apparently this showed at Cannes.  Watch it before it's taken down again.  I have to say, I keep underestimating this simply because I don't know much about it, and honestly I keep getting this confused with 'The Railway Man' and for the whole first half of the trailer I was waiting for Colin Firth to show up.  ANYWAYS, this looks really good.  I love it when Philip Seymour Hoffman restrains himself, and his accent work is really good here.  In fact, I was generally impressed with everyone's accent work, so bravo for them.  If this solidifies Rachel McAdams as a good actress and not just another fizzled blip of promise, then I'm all for it.  I also loved 'The American', so Corbijn is on my radar for sure, and Le Caree seems to the all the rage lately with primo adaptations of his work.  He even has promising director Justin Kurzel (of 'Snowtown Murders' fame) tackling one of his books.  I'm all for this one, and I have a feeling I should be considering Philip Seymour Hoffman in my next batch of Oscar predictions.  He looks very much Lead here, but I have a feeling he'll be competing in Supporting.  They have no problem demoting him when necessary, even when it's flagrant category fraud (he was Lead in both 'Doubt' and 'The Master').

So, what do you think?  Does this look as exciting to you as it does to me?

I Dream in Color: My Visual Reviews of Wes Anderson

So yes, I'm making this an official series here at A Fistful of Films.  I enjoy doing this a lot, and it forces me to see the collected works of many of today's auteurs, so why not indulge?  So far I've reviewed 'visually' the entire filmographies of Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky and David Fincher.  Next up, Wes Anderson.  The great thing about these directors is that they certainly have a very unique and identifiable visual style.  You can pinpoint their films without seeing their names attached, and so they have built (over the years) a real fan base because of their rich individuality.  I love directors like this, that understand who they are, and while they may not always deliver (in all four cases I have some low rated films) they are always true to themselves.

Continuing this trend, let's consider the 'other' Anderson (and they couldn't be more different).

Wes Anderson is an acquired taste.  His aesthetic is very uniquely tuned into who he is as an artist that if you aren’t dialed into his brand of humor his films will be lost on you entirely.  I have to admit, I am not a fan of all of his work, but when he hits a home run it is a real, tried and true masterpiece, and I must say that I have found his latest two offerings to be undeniable cinematic treasures.

So, here we go:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Poster Break: The Butler 2x's

I just can't with this movie.  I mean, this looks atrocious.  The trailer was bad enough, but these posters are just a giant epic fail.  The tagline makes this feel like a Presidential 'Forrest Gump', and we need another one of those movies like a fucking hole in the head.  Whitaker looks like a joke here, and the combination of faux sentimental schmaltz and awkward black power movement in this pair of shameful posters just makes everything about this film feel so...gross.  I hope to god this fails miserably to do what it is so unashamed to declare it wants; gain Oscar traction.  This is bound to be a mess, I just hope it's a borderline entertaining one.  Either that, or I pray that it receives no awards attention so that I'm not compelled to actually see it.

Five for the Fifth: My June Answers to Ruth's 5 Questions!

So I was really bummed last month when I couldn’t participate in Ruth’s ‘Five for the Fifth’.  Well, partially bummed since the reason I couldn’t participate was because I was sipping Piña Coladas on the beach on the fifth of May.  Alas, here we are on the fifth of June and I wound up having a meeting this morning and couldn’t get to my computer until just now, which means half of my day is gone and I’m only now getting to these questions and my answers.

LOL, so dramatic!

So, as per usual, Ruth offers us up a bounty of thought provoking questions, and I love it when I can get right into plowing away at my own personal opinions (who doesn’t like to talk about themselves?) so let’s get right into the first hot topic, and yes, it’s a controversial one in the cinematic world because, well, it’s about Marky Mark!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday Top Ten

For a few months now I’ve wanted to post my Top Ten Performance lists.  Performances and actors are obviously two very different entities and so coming up with a final list for performances is very hard to do.  Some of my favorite actors are bound to be left off of one list or another, and so I try to limit myself to ONE performance per actor or actress so as to spread the wealth and prohibit Marlon Brando from taking up the majority of the list.  Still, it’s somewhat of a shame since some of my favorite actors fail to land on my Top Ten performance list.  Most notable is Paul Newman, who would probably rank in the #1 or #2 spot for me as my favorite actor ever (certainly the most consistent) and yet he just misses (and I mean by an inch) this performance list for his magnificent turn in ‘Hud’.  Well start with the Lead Actor list (the rest to follow), where Marcelo Mastroianni was also very close for ‘La Dolce Vita’, and my recent rewatch of ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ was kind to Tony Curtis.  Heath Ledger was also considered for his towering achievement in ‘Brokeback Mountain’, but at the end of the day I could only chose ten…

And here they are:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Morning Musings…

It’s not just another week, but it is another MONTH!  May is over and June has sprung (okay, so that’s not exactly news considering that it is the third of June already).  It’s been a busy weekend without much movie watching to be honest.  It’s quite depressing since I was awaiting a Netflix movie that never showed up (my last film of 1957 before I can complete my Fisti Awards) and my plan to wrap up my Wes Anderson blind spots in order to complete his ‘visual career assessment’ failed.  One down, one to go; and you’d think that getting through ONE film would be easy, but with kids and a wife and weekend plans galore it is harder than it sounds.

So yeah, I had big plans for my Monday posts and nether one of them is happening today.  Hopefully this week; but only time and schedule will tell.