Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let's Review Something: The East

Brit Marling is really making a lot of herself and becoming one of those names to get excited over.  Between her work (in front and behind the camera) in films like ‘Another Earth’ and ‘The Sound of My Voice’, she is clearly one of those ‘ones to watch’ of this decade.  She’s certainly more interesting than some of the talentless ‘bodies’ you see floating around magazine covers.  With her latest entry, Marling once again proves that she has the smarts to not only craft an original piece of work but also the talent to carry it on her shoulders.

‘The East’ is possibly her most straightforward work so far, and so for that it may be deemed her least impressive and yet it is probably her most polished to date.  Where ‘The Sound of My Voice’ felt somewhat avant-garde in tone, and ‘Another Earth’ felt entirely indie, there is something very grounded about ‘The East’.  It feels very surefooted, which is a good thing, and even though the ending left me a tad underwhelmed (and yet, it was effective), there is a lasting presence here that is undeniable.

Breaking Emotions: Love & Hate

Sadly, this is the last week for Mettel Rays Breaking Emotions blog-a-thon.  It’s been a great time, and I wish that it were longer, but the end is here.  I’m feeling a tad rushed this week, with the Holiday cutting into everything, but here we are regardless and I’ve come up with what may be my favorite groupings so far, so they say you save the best for last and…I guess that happened here as well.

Let’s just get into Love & Hate now!!!

The magic of Disney!

And this will teach us all not to judge a book by its cover ever again.

When the trailer for ‘Frozen’ was dropped a few months back, I predicted a dud.  It looked so generic and obvious and unfunny and repetitive and just everything I didn’t want it to be.  When news of the film broke I was ecstatic.  Disney, doing another musical, basing it off of a very dark and disturbing tale.  I knew it would get white washed a bit (which I was fine with), but it was a MUSICAL and so I was automatically game for it. 

Then that trailer deceived me. 

Still, my daughters were hooked with the very first television spot, and they’ve had the dolls for nearly a month already, and so we were going to see this opening night.  With expectations low (despite some good early ink), there was nowhere to go but up for this film, and it didn’t just go up, it blew through the roof!  Yes, ‘Frozen’ is easily Disney’s best film since ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and honestly, one of the best musicals since.  It’s a visual feast, charming and sincere, and an unexpected twist on a tale of love, family and acceptance with beautiful shades that make this something truly special.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Independent Spirit Award Nominations!

Well, Awards Season is officially in full swing!  While the Gothams have already announced their nominees, it is the Spirits that really matter most with Independent cinema, and these nominees have been known to cross over with Oscar quite a bit in recent years (not always the winners).  Besides, they always add flavor to the race, since they can't fawn all over the big budget films and so they tend to pick out some obscure films to shower love on.

Let's take a look at what they've done.

November Oscar Predictions: or, my last blind predictions of the year!

So, next month shit gets real.  December will bring the real awards of the season, with critics announcing their picks every day of the week for about eight weeks, with the Globes and the BFCA announcing their nominees before the month’s end.  Predictions will really start to shape up, the races will start to get clearer and contenders we are taking for granted are going to start to emerge. 

Egos will get stroked, backtracking will be had by prognosticators who don’t want to be seen as championing a dud and FYC’s will be insane.

So let’s explore the contenders a little more this month.  It’s the last chance we’re going to have to blind predict, because once the critics start narrowing down the pool, things are going to get a lot more predictable.  Sure, there may always be those Jackie Weaver surprises on nomination morning, but in a few weeks we’re going to find out Daniel Day-Lewis and our Ang Lee and hopefully we’ll get another Ben Affleck (the prospect of this being Oprah has me all sorts of giddy with excitement).  There are obvious pros and cons to so many of the potentials and some are looking stronger with each passing day (Squibb), while others are gaining steam as a darkhorse potential (Hawkins) and still others have fallen off completely (Diaz).  Didn’t mean to concentrate solely on Supporting Actress, but it is one of the more interesting races this year.

But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Short lists for Shorts...

Well, that was short lived.  The idea that there could be a Cuaron family night at the Oscars is no more, now that Aningaaq is not in contention for a nomination.  Yes, the short lists are in for Documentary, Live Action and Animated Short.  You can see some of these online, and I plan to do that next week.  For the time being, take a gander at the lists below.  The best way to predict these each year is to actually see them, so I plan to do that this year (I never have before, unless it was tagged to the beginning of a Pixar movie).

Live Action Short

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Dva (Two)
Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
Throat Song
Tiger Boy
The Voorman Problem

Animated Short

Get a Horse!
Gloria Victoria
Hollow Land
The Missing Scarf
Mr. Hublot
Requiem for Romance
Room on the Broom
Subconscious Password

Documentary Short

Facing Fear
Jujitsu-ing Reality
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Friday, November 22, 2013

Let's Review Something: Bridegroom

Earlier this year I happened to see a promotional video on YouTube for this documentary.  Watching the ten minute mini-doc which chronicled the last thirty minutes of this movie (the tragic death of Tom Bridegroom, and the horrible treatment his partner Shane received from Tom’s family) I found myself in tears.  It felt so honest and the emotional weight of loss and prejudice hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I knew that I needed to see this film.

I saw this last night.

‘Bridegroom’ is a multifaceted title, for it simply states the decease’s last name but it also foreshadows the film’s stance on equality.  As Shane states towards the film’s close, Tom was always denied his last name (in other words; they could not get married).  Sadly, one of my biggest qualms with this film is that lack of depth given to that aspect of this story.  As much as they state their frustration for not being able to marry, when the film gets into the guts of the story it is almost like that aspect of things is brushed completely over.  Let’s mention it, but let’s not add any depth.  Let’s not attack the legality of it all and elaborate on the injustice we faced.  Let’s simple state our inability to marry, and call it a day.

Would you like some more 'Gravity'?

Remember that scene in 'Gravity', where Sandra Bullock, completely defeated by desperation, finds herself stranded in Russian space capsule with no fuel and shattered hope?  It is in that moment where I feel like Bullock sealed her Oscar fate (she could even win for this) and it is in that moment that she stole my heart.  Broken and alone, she finds slivers of solace in a male voice she encounters over radio waves, and through their disjointed conversation (the voice speaks another language and they encounter obvious communication barriers) Bullock's character, Dr. Stone, is reminded of her personal conviction to survive.  It is my favorite moment in the film (her line "I'm going to die today" still buries me, even in here where you can't see her face) and that scene just got some special treatment.

Jonas Cuaron, Alfonso's son, has directed a short film to be submitted to this years Oscars that visualizes the other end of that conversation.  It is a short scene (the film is only 7 minutes long, and that includes the credits) but it fleshes out that sequence and adds a beautiful weight (if not an obvious one) that I think is a perfect compliment to the film itself.  

I wholly expect this to be an extra on the DVD.

The big talking point here is that if Oscar actually nominates 'Aningaaq' (the name of the man on the other end), then it will be making history.  This will be the first time that a spin-off 'short film' is nominated alongside the feature film, and we all know that 'Gravity' is a lock in the Best Picture category.  If the film wins, and so does Alfonso in Director, it will be another Oscar moment to have this father and son pair BOTH win Oscars on the same night.

Please make this happen!

Now, the question arises; doe the short film deserve the Oscar recognition?

This is a tough one for me.  Within the context of what it is, which is an extension of his father's masterpiece, I'd say that it does.  It folds in such a beautiful layer of emotion and adds to my favorite scene in the film.  It wouldn't have worked IN the film, because it would have taken you out of the magical atmosphere that Alfonso created, but as a separate extension, it has it's own atmosphere and identity. 

This is all fine and dandy when you consider it's origins, but if you judge the film solely on it's own merits, the film doesn't really carry much.  Stripped of 'Gravity', 'Aningaaq' is almost too short and seemingly vacant.  You need the impact of the feature film to give any sort of credence to this short scene.  Visually, it's stunning (such a sharp contrast in light to the darkness of 'Gravity', and I can only imagine that that was intentional), and emotionally, it moved me, but it's a thin line to be honest.

And yet, I'm all for it taking gold if we can have a father~son moment at the Oscars!

You can catch all 7 minutes here.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well.  I have a feeling that Oscar will bite, especially considering how much they are bound to love 'Gravity', and rewarding this will essentially be a reward for that film as well.

Beauty break for the birthday girl...

We've talked a lot about Scarlett Johansson this year already, thanks to the banner year for film, reviews and celebrity she's been having, and because we love her so much, so instead of analyzing her Oscar chances or her filmography today (on her 29th birthday), we'll just ogle her curves and salivate over how damn hot she is.

Have fun.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blind Spot Series: 2014 (I need your help!!!!!)

Here's looking at you, 1940s...

So last year I told myself that I was going to participate in the Blind Spot Series that so many of my fellow bloggers were having fun with, and then January came and went and I hadn't even taken the time to form a list of films to see and I just scrapped the whole idea and moved on.  This coming year, I really want to do this, and seeing some fellow bloggers jump all over their lists early has got me thinking; I need to plan ahead.  So, here's the deal; I've realized that my biggest blind spots happen to dwell in the 40's.  Out of all the film decades, it is the one I am least versed in.  I think I've maybe seen 40 total films from all ten years!  Yes, I've seen 'Casablanca', so don't suggest that one, but I'd really love to snag some suggestions from my readers here.  Help a blogger out!  I'd post what I've seen, but quite frankly I've seen so few that if you suggest 12 chances are I've only seen one of them.  So what are the 12 films from the 40's you think I NEED TO SEE?  I'll take all suggestions into consideration and get this thing kicked off in January with the rest of you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Breaking Emotions: Smiles & Thrills

Alright, so this weeks’ worth of emotions are up (they’ve been up since Monday) and I’ve been trying to piece together not only my scenes but my thoughts on each.  With ‘smiles’ and ‘thrills’ being the contrasted emotions (I love this idea of providing contradictions as pairings) I started to see real similarities between the two.  Smiling is a feeling that accompanies many of our personal emotions, and so pinpointing those moments was a lot of fun.

Here you go Mettel Ray; let’s get this party started!

Gandolfini will be honored at The Gothams...

It's no secret how I feel about James's beautiful performance in 'Enough Said'.  I've labeled it brilliant and currently consider it the finest performance of the year, in any category.  He was so natural and beautifully sincere in every frame.  I've also been pretty vocal about how I feel his Oscar chances are, and if you are new to this conversation; I'm predicting him.  

It looks like he's getting a boost in this race thanks to The Independent Gotham Awards, who announced that they will be giving him a posthumous tribute when the Awards are held on December 2nd.  While these are the Gotham Awards (very little impact on the overall race), this proves that the buzz surrounding him is still very much alive.  Yes, this honor has a lot to do with his unfortunate passing earlier this year and the fact that his career has shown such range, especially in the independent community, but it certainly keeps his name in the race.

Yes, the category this year is crowded, but this is the PERFECT performance to honor his legacy with, and I think that Oscar voters are very aware of that.

Also, this is beautiful and how I feel many voters will be feeling while filling out their ballots.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rome loved her; will Oscar?

Is that you Scarlett?

And by 'her' I mean Scarlett Johansson, and by Scarlett Johansson I mean her performance in 'Her', where she is never seen, only heard, and yet apparently her vocal performance is so strong (the reviews and praise are unanimous) that she's winning awards for it!  Yup, forget Matthew McConaughey; the best thing to come out of the Rome Film Fest is that acting win for Scarlett!  So, the idea of an Oscar nomination here has been flirted with for a while now, but could it really happen?  I'm not so sure (it's such a braze and risky prediction), but it surely is a possibility!  

Oh how the times have changed.

Controversy swims throughout 'Blackfish'...


Most people have been there, but even if you haven’t, you know what it’s all about.  It’s been the secondary ‘Disney World’ for years, decades, deemed the more respectable or educational family vacation spot by many for quite some time.  In fact, ‘Sea World’ has been my family’s personal favorite vacation destination for almost six years now.

Honestly, I did not want to see this film because I didn’t want to be swayed away from a place that truly makes me happy.

Still, ‘Blackfish’ has been garnering so much critical praise and has received such a warm welcome from audiences who have responded to its themes and its depictions of the perceived or assumed ‘real Sea World’ and so, with all the collective yammering left and right I decided that this was a film I had to see.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Love you's a link!

I planned on doing this Friday and then, well, the day escaped me.  Then I planned on doing in this morning and, well, the day escaped me.  So, I'm throwing some link love out there to some fellow bloggers who wrote the pieces I read this weekend or, err, um, today.

I guess patience is a virtue, since some new ink was dropped today that made me happy to include it!

First, Josh tackled 25 movie songs that failed to catch Oscar's attention...but should have!  I can't believe how much that 'Kissing You' snub stings when thinking back on it.

Brittani digs up a little scene gem of a film in 'Pieces of April'.  Back in 2003 I was in love with Katie Holmes, and she is aces in this role.  I wish she hadn't sold her soul to Tom Cruise, but thankfully she's broken from his clutches and should be getting her life back on track.  Oh, wait...she's fucking Jamie Foxx now.

I pretty much love 'Pan's Labyrinth' more in retrospect today than I did when I initially watched it (in concept that film is amazing) and so reading through Michael's breakdown of the '20 things you may have missed' was really incredible.  If fact, his piece moved me to watch the film over the weekend.

Remember when 'Argo' won the Oscar last year?  Remember how divided the world was on the film's worth?  I liked it, but thevoid99 kind of loves it, and his review is up and awaiting your attention.  As always, he writes a great review!  personally, I don't love the film, but I liked it better than 'Life if Pi', so YAY!

3 Guys 1 Movie breaks down the new DVD releases for the week.  Yeah, I'm not in a hurry to see any of these.

I'm a huge fan of reading other bloggers personal awards (thus my own Fisti Awards) and so when a blogger starts to post their rundown of a particular year and then abruptly stops...I get really depressed.  Thankfully, Encore's World decided to pick up where he left off months ago and let us in on his final installments of his 2012 breakdown.  He picks up with his choices for Best Ending.  I have to say, I completely agree with his take on these!

Speaking of personal awards, Nate needs to finish his Film Bitch Awards from last year too...but until then, he's debating the Critics Choice for young actor this year and is completely dreading (as are most of us) a double nod for Chloe Grace Moretz.  All I can say is, Tye Fucking Sheridan!  Seriously, I haven't seen much, but you could nominate the casts from 'The Bling Ring' and 'Mud' and you'd have a VERY worthy lineup!

And lastly, if you haven't gotten in on Mettel Ray's Breaking Emotions blog-a-thon, make today the day.  This weeks assignment is up!

Friday, November 15, 2013

So last night I swam with the fishes...

True story.

So this past summer I went on vacation with my best friend and our families.  Before embarking on our trip, my friend came across these promotional videos for the new Go Pro camera, a camera that basically allows any Joe off the street to become the director of his own movie.  We had to have one.  So, setting off for a beachside vacation with a Go Pro in our pocket (and on our heads and on a stick and basically wherever else we could stick it) we documented our entire trip.  The camera ended up in the ocean, bouncing on six foot waves, for forty minutes as we sloshed around and rammed into each other.  It also wound up getting buried in the sand as I videotaped my daughter climbing up a sandy hill for ten minutes.  It was attacked by dolphins, wound up in the mouth of an alligator and ended up in my best friend’s pants.  Watching back these videos can be exhausting.  While they are visually stunning, forty minutes of going in and out of the ocean or ten minutes of barely distinguishable pubic hair can be called ‘artistic’ but can’t really be called entertaining.

The point is that you can hand anyone a Go Pro and they start to think that they are Terrence Malick.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Let's Review Something: Frances Ha

I’m not entirely familiar with Noah Baumbach’s body of work.  I’ve seen two of his other films, ‘Greenburg’ and ‘The Squid & the Whale’ and I really liked both of them.  They shared a similar tonal approach and yet ‘The Squid & the Whale’ felt very much like a Wes Anderson film to me, while ‘Greenburg’ felt a little more grounded in realism (not saying that it’s the better film, because it’s not).  With ‘Frances Ha’, Baumbach adds yet another layer to his stylistic approach and delivers something I wasn’t expecting and really responded to.

This is, by far, my favorite of the three films.

Briskly paced and yet filled to the brim with development, ‘Frances Ha’ has a real firm hold on its identity and it understands how to engineer itself to be as effective as possible.  There is no fat here, the film just flows from scene to scene, and the character development here (more than one character even) feels so defined and so intended.  You understand these characters, where they started and where they are headed.  This may be my favorite character study of the year so far, and it certainly is one of the finest ensembles (so uniformly organic and honest).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Let's Review Something: Iron Man 3

Superhero movies are making a HUGE comeback and have continued to rack up dollars at the box office for the past couple years.  You can thank Sam Raimi and Christopher Nolan for revamping our interest in the genre.  With ‘Iron Man’ making a giant splash with critics and audiences in 2008, it was only a matter of time before Robert Downey Jr. became a franchise all his own (since he IS Iron Man), and now in 2013 his name is synonymous with big budget Hollywood franchises.  In fact, if Daniel Craig hadn’t snagged the role back in 2006, I’m sure Robert Downey Jr. would have jumped at the chance to be a superhero, a sleuth AND a spy.

But, back to ‘Iron Man’.

The reviews and reception of ‘Iron Man 2’ was dismal (and deservedly, since outside of Scarlett Johansson’s hotness, the film was a mess) and so they really needed ‘The Avengers’ to be a hit, and it was, to the point that ‘Iron Man 3’ became one of the most anticipated films for all boys over the age of two and under the age of dead.

I’m late to this party.  I missed it while it was in the theaters and so I had to wait until Redbox would let me rent it, and even then I waited a few weeks for some reason unknown to myself.  I finally wrapped my eyes around this visual spectacle last night, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  I will say this as preface; I really, really loved the first ‘Iron Man’.  I hated the second one.  I found ‘The Avengers’ to be, quite easily, the most overrated movie of 2012.  I liked it, but my god was it pimped out to be the second coming of superhero movies, and in a year where Nolan closes out the most impressive trilogy in superhero history, you have to do better than that.  It was fun, but rather messy, cluttered and underwhelming.

I know that I’m in the minority.

Breaking Emotions: Tears & Surprise

So, it’s week two in Mettel Ray’s ‘Breaking Emotions’ blogathon, and I’m anxious to get into this.  Such a fun idea for a blogathon, and much like Nostra’s ‘5 Obstructions’ blogathon, this is making me think…a lot.  I love it when these are challenging and not just ‘pick a movie or actor and write something about them’.  This week Mettel Ray has decided we should look at the emotions of ‘sadness’ (here referred to as tears) and ‘surprise’.

Oh, and SPOILER CENTRAL below, so beware!

Let’s get cracking:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Let's Review Something: In the House

When watching Francois Ozon’s ‘In the House’, I was repeatedly reminded of Atom Egoyan’s ‘Adoration’.  Both films tackle the idea of obsession and fabrication as unified entities and interwoven truths, and both carry and heaviness about them that seems rooted in something concealed. 

But then, with regards to ‘In the House’, things start to shift, tonally. 

This is where ‘In the House’ rises above being yet another ‘clever film’ and becomes something more, something substantial.  It’s not merely clever, it’s remarkably astute and says so much for those very subjects thanks to an almost witty and playful shift in nature.  Ozon’s directorial achievement here is easily overlooked, but he handles the film’s core with such organic grace.  He allows the film’s finale to coat over the audience, pandering to us without giving in to obvious manipulations.  The homage to films like ‘Rear Window’ (this is vastly superior, but I know I’m in the minority when it comes to that film) makes for something truly rewarding, and that final shot is especially effective ‘because’ of the buildup created by Ozon.  Yes, as the film descends into the depths of Ozon’s painted portrayal of roving eyes and wandering minds, the audience is taken for a ride they won’t soon forget.

Joe Wright + Peter Pan = One Excited Blogger

Over here at A Fistful of Films, we love Joe Wright.  The rest of the world may not wholly agree, but I could give a fuck.  His body of work, aside from that horrendous 'The Soloist', is pure perfection personified, and his name alone gets me excited to go to the movies.  For as much as I love him...I haven't seen a single one of his films in the theater!  I know, right!  All of that will change with his next project, not just because I want it to, but because 'Peter Pan' is kind of an obsession in my household and my kids are going to go apeshit for this.  Yes, according to Variety, Wright has confirmed that his next project is going to be an adaptation of J. M. Barrie's beloved classic, 'Peter Pan'.  I've been thinking for quite some time that this story needed to be retold, and after reading Barrie's novel last year (it is a masterpiece), this has such potential to skew older and really be a dark and profound 'tale'.  I'd love to see it explored with some depth as well as beauty, which is something that Wright is good for.  Casting this will be essential, since they cannot grab child actors who are too old for their roles and yet they can't skew too young and lose out on the depth of performance because of it.  

I'm anticipating some real 'finds' here.

Wright apparently is going through a Disney faze right now (actually, neither story is of Disney origin, but was only made famous by the master of imagination), because reports have been flying for over two years that he was planning to follow up 'Hanna' with a live action adaptation of 'The Little Mermaid', another project that I'm anxious to see come to life.  As much as Wright is known for his period realness, these Disney classics seem like a perfect fit for his knack for visual grandeur and lush, emotional romanticism.  

What are your thoughts?  Are you intrigued by the idea of Wright taking on these classics?  Which one intrigues you more?

I may be seeing this for Elle Fanning...

But GOD DAMN, this poster is beautiful!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Apparently George Clooney pissed in my cereal at some point...

First, I want to say that I'm not anti-George Clooney.  I don't hate him and I don't find him talentless, despite my rants from time to time.  Yes, I think he is overrated and his embrace from AMPAS since his HUGE 2005 year is just baffling to me.  I think he lacks range, but he's had some really shining moments (he's a Fisti nominee for his performance in 'O Brother Where Art Thou?') and I agree that the man is incredibly handsome.

That is kind of where it ends for me.  I don't find him charming because I find his charm to be rather conceited and arrogant and he just comes across very smug and full of himself, and this bleeds into his recent performances.  I don't get why the world LOVES him to much.  He's kind of an asshole.

With that in mind, have you read this interview he did with Esquire?

In the interview he calls out Russell Crowe for being an asshole (we aren't going to dispute that).  Apparently, about TEN YEARS AGO, Crowe was quoted as saying that Clooney (and De Niro and Ford) were sellouts.  I'm not going to dispute that either.  Crowe apparently apologized for it by sending Clooney a CD and some of his poetry (Crowe is such a tortured artist).  In turn, Clooney fires back by mocking Crowe and then bringing it all back up again ten years later.  It feels so...petty. 

Where's my phone...I think I need to throw it, AT GEORGE CLOONEY!

Yes, I'm bias.  I'm Crowe's #1 fan (in my head) and I defend him countless times despite the fact that he is an asshole, but at least he's not arrogant and smug.  George's face just exudes the confidence of a man who thinks his shit doesn't stink, and this particular comment is just ridiculous: 

“But then I had a year. Then I had Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck, and he was gonna see me at the Golden Globes ’cause he was nominated for Cinderella Man. So he sends me a disc of his music and a thing of his poetry. I think he said, ‘I was all misquoted,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. Whatever.’ I did take it with me to the BAFTAs, but I didn’t win. I might have used it if I had won. I was nominated for four!”
I just don't get this.  So, if you had won you would have taken that opportunity to openly humiliate a fellow actor?  This doesn't make you sound like the bigger man.  This makes you sound like just as big, if not an even BIGGER asshole.

I don't drink your Kool Aid Mr. Clooney.

BIFA Nominees...

And you thought the Gothams were a horrible indicator of what Oscar will embrace.  Try your hand at 'The British Independent Film Awards'.  While AMPAS has, over the past few years, begun to embrace American Independent cinema, a quick glance at the history of the BIFAs will show that Oscar rarely embraces their nominees and winners, even when they are big names like Carey Mulligan and Vanessa Redgrave.

Still, these are always fun to look at and discuss, so let's take a look at these nominees and see which ones could play into the Oscar game.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Snow White...again?

Last year, when ‘Blancanieves’ was released (yes, this was released in 2012 over in Spain and was submitted, but rejected, to the Academy for the Foreign Language Film category), there was a lot of murmuring over the internet about the fact that this was a silent film.  Ignorant ‘wannabe’ cinephiles were balking at it, calling it a gimmick and accusing it of capitalizing on the sudden rush of fame (and Academy embrace) of 2011’s ‘The Artist’.  This was such a sad happening because we simply don’t have enough creativity in film these days, and a rebirth of the silent film genre would hopefully spark some newfound imagination in filmmakers.  While it has become almost cool to ‘poo-poo’ all over ‘The Artist’ as being shamelessly gimmicky and Academy pandering, I still love the film.  No, it doesn’t make my top ten of 2011, but I still really enjoyed it and while it has some pretty lazy screenwriting, it has loads of charm and flash and made me smile ear to ear with each viewing.

Dismissing ‘Blancanieves’ simply because you are fearing or expecting ‘The Artist’ redux is a shame, because this film is FAR different in tone and construction and manages to not just be a very good film, it is a BETTER film for many reasons.

‘Blancanieves’ attempts to put yet another twist on the ‘Snow White’ story.  Yes, 2012 was stupid with ‘Snow White’ remakes, and while the two US releases (‘Mirror Mirror’ and ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’) may have soured you to the idea of a modern cinematic take on the fable, I encourage you to forget your quibbles and just give Pablo Berger’s inspired take a try.  Yes, it is in black and white.  Yes, it is silent.  Yes, it is foreign. 

Who cares!

Let's Review Something: The Place Beyond the Pines

Ryan Gosling was in high demand this year from directors who had already used him to great effect.  You had Nicolas Winding Refn botch his second chance with the actor in the abominable ‘Only God Forgives’, but Derek Cianfrance (who almost directed Gosling to an Oscar nomination in ‘Blue Valentine’) made the most of his second experience with the actor to give us a very strong character, performance, film…whatever you want to call it.  While ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ has its faults (and we’ll get to those in a minute), the film has a presence that is FELT, and both director and actor(s) do their best to create, maintain and sustain that presence.

Entertainment Weekly's Early Oscar Predictions...

Back in 2003 I was given a years subscription to Entertainment Weekly from Best Buy and it opened my eyes to the random, useless yet wonderfully enjoyable world of movie watching 'with a purpose'.  In fact, the 2003 Oscar race was the first I followed from start to finish (2001 was the first telecast I watched, and since then I haven't missed a year) and I thank Entertainment Weekly in LARGE part for that.  It made following the race much easier for a first timer, especially when their Oscar issues rolled around.  With detailed charts and those fun little ballots where you could watch the telecast with your 'predictions' in hand, Entertainment Weekly became a staple for me.

While I don't always agree with their stance on films or on the race in general, it is always interesting to see who they are predicting and who they are promoting.  Their Holiday Movie Preview hits stands in a few days and it includes their first batch of Oscar predictions (in the top six categories) of the season.  Those predictions have leaked and so I'm here to share them with you today!

So, what can we learn from EW today?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's Review Something: Only God Forgives

Dear God, do I have to?

When the savagely distasteful reviews for ‘Only God Forgives’ dropped earlier this year, I was baffled.  I mean, ‘Drive’ was pretty much critically applauded and continues to earn raves from cinephiles, and Ryan Gosling is kind of like beloved by nearly everyone (I said nearly), so how in the world could the much anticipated follow-up to their surprise masterpiece be such a terrible film?  I chucked it up people just not ‘getting it’ and figured that they MUST be wrong.

Nicolas Winding Refn couldn’t have dropped the ball THAT far, could he?

You can go ahead and sound the alarm, because the world that hated ‘Only God Forgives’ was correct and pretty much hit every nail on the head.  I’m just as baffled as the ten other people who have yet to see this (I’m always late to the party), but believe me, this film is atrocious in ways I can’t even put into words.  I’m almost loathe to admit that I liked anything about this movie (the cinematography is gorgeous, the costumes are divine and that score is Oscar worthy) simply because the overall product is so dreadful. 

Trailer Break: Winter's Tale

Well, it was at one time my most anticipated films of 2013, and then they moved it back to 2014 (Valentine's Day, to be exact) and my excitement wavered (does that mean it sucks?) but finally the trailer is here and I have to say, I'm suffering a mix of wonder and concern.  Having read the novel, and LOVED it, I was initially concerned with how this story was going to be told and the integrity of it kept.  The trailer obviously modernizes the second half of the story (the book was written in the 80's and this is clearly a modern age adaptation) and yet I'm not entirely bothered by that.  There is something overtly romantic about this trailer, the song, the roving eyes, and in such a contained space Crowe's performance worries me (although his accent work is spotless) and yet with a trailer in sight my anticipation is growing.  Could this be epic?  The director scares me (his track record is abominable, despite his Oscar) but the source material is SO GOOD!  

It sure does look pretty.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Breaking Emotions: Fear & Awkward

So, the other day I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a blog I was unfamiliar with, Mettel Ray, and I just so happened to see that she was starting a blogathon that peaked my interest almost immediately.  Breaking Emotions is the blogathon, and basically what happens is that every Monday two emotions are given and we (the bloggers) are asked to come up with three scenes in film that bring those emotions to mind.  It’s a great concept, and it leads the way for lots of different takes on the emotions and what they mean to each individual blogger.

So, without further ado…here is my take on this week’s assignment:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Let's Review Something: To the Wonder

Terrence Malick is one of those directors that I don’t always click with.  I know that he has a very large and supporting group of rabid fans and yet I have yet to be truly mesmerized by him since his debut, ‘Badlands’.  What I have always admired about Malick is that he tries to come at very deep rooted and intellectual subjects from a vantage point of almost complete detachment, allowing us to hover over these subjects without beating us over the head with them.  He’s focused on war and faith and death and celebrity and in each of these instances, even when I don’t feel the film worked as a whole, you find this otherworldly atmosphere thanks to Malick’s thickly laced scope of ideas.

I’ve said this time and time again, but Malick is a director who tends to get in his own way. 

And then there were five...

"Oh look, an Oscar nomination!"

Actually...there are 19, which means that there will be 5.  Yup, there are 19 eligible animated films for this year's Oscar and so that means we will have 5, not 3 nominees.  In a year with so many lackluster and critical flops, it's rather disheartening that something like this didn't happen in 2010 (when 'Despicable Me' and 'Tangled' were both snubbed).  I'm also wondering how this news will affect the race at all.  Opening the voting up may reduce the love for smaller films and could pave a way for bigger, dumber films to snag undeserving nominations.

Well, we'll find out soon enough.  For the record, here are the 19 eligible entries:

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest and Celestine”
“The Fake”
“Free Birds“
“The Legend of Sarila”
“A Letter to Momo”
“Monsters University”
“O Apóstolo”
“Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion”
“Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury”
“The Smurfs 2”
“The Wind Rises”

I still stand by my October predictions here.  'Monsters University' and 'The Wind Rises' are pretty much locked up here, unless a large voting block vitos 'The Wind Rises'.  'Frozen' is a late in the year Disney release and has the fortune of coming out in a very weak year.  After that, 'Ernest and Celeste' has the reviews and most likely the support to make it.  Then you have the battle of the critically mediocre ('Epic', 'Turbo', 'The Croods') and the sequels ('Despicable Me 2', 'Rio 2') and I think that 'Despicable Me 2' will come out on top.  So far it's the best animated film I've seen this year, so I'm happy with that.

David Cronenberg is a dick!

Your mouth is hideous...

I'm all for directors and actors and whoever you are having your own opinion, but David Cronenberg is continually proving himself one of the most arrogant, pompous, condescending assholes in the business right now (hyperbole galore and yet, I'm being serious).  Remember his rant against superhero movies?  Well, not he's shitting all over Stanley Kubrick.  In an interview at the Toronto Film Festival, Cronenberg decided to take a giant dump all over Kubrick's 'The Shining', and while he was at it he decided to talk up his own directorial style while trashing that of the late, great auteur.  Check out these quotes:

"I think I'm a more intimate and personal film-maker than Kubrick ever was"
"In a weird way, though he's revered as a high-level cinematic artist"

Have some fucking respect!  Seriously, there is such a thing as having an opinion and then there is taking pot-shots at the deceased.  I know that many directors have stooped to criticizing the competition, but this is low.  You can read the rest of the article here.  I love how Cronenberg thinks that he is a 'personal' director.  News flash buddy, your work is about as cold and calculated as Kubrick ever was, except he was far more consistent and had a much larger range than you.

What a dick.

5 for the Fifth: My Answers to Ruth's Questions...

So every month, on the 5th, Ruth over at Flixchatter posts a ‘5 for the Fifth’ where she asks five film (or television) related questions in search of our answers.  I try to post my response here on the blog, where I can really elaborate.  Sadly, I’ve missed the past few months.  Today has been a surprisingly slow morning and I’ve actually had a few minutes to dedicate to answering her questions, so here we go!

Monday, November 4, 2013

I love 'Lucy' (at least I think I will)

I like this breed of superhero!
The career resurgence of Scarlett Johansson is my favorite thing to come out of 2013, and it looks like it'll be carrying over into 2014 with Luc Besson's film 'Lucy'.  These pics surfaced late last month, but I just found them today.  If this is the new look for superheros today, I'm all for it.  This is a few sexy steps up from Black Widow!  Besson may not have the best track record out there, but when he's hot, he's hot, and he knows his way around an action scene.  With Scarlett Johansson in his arsenal, no wonder he looks confident.

Like a boss!
Speaking of the film, Besson says our perception of what this film is about is all wrong.  According to a press conference he had over in Taiwan, the whole drug mule angle is NOT the film's focal point and only comprised of about five pages of the script.  Instead, the film is about 'pure intellegence' (whatever the fuck that means) and he compared it to a mix of 'Leon' and 'Inception' (I'm sold) and said that this was a 'trial'.

Color me intrigued.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Let's Review Something: Laurence Anyways

The hype surrounding ‘Laurence Anyways’ had me anxious from the very start.  Having seen and loved what Xavier Dolan did with ‘Heartbeats’, I was really excited for the next step of his career.  With a clear knack for style, I was truly happy to hear all the talk about the substance found within ‘Laurence Anyways’.  I have not seen ‘I Killed My Mother’, Dolan’s debut (but I plan to shortly), but I did note that as beautiful and soulful as ‘Heartbeats’ was, it was very much like ‘Jules et Jim’ without substance.  If Dolan could mesh his undeniable sense of visual with a richly developed core, he could create a true masterpiece.

‘Laurence Anyways’ is a masterpiece.

To say that Xavier Dolan may be the best thing to happen to queer cinema is an understatement, although it really does bear repeating.  It goes deeper than that though.  Dolan is one of the freshest, most excited faces in modern cinema, period.  With voices such as Dolan and McQueen and Zeitlin (let’s see what he does with film #2), things are looking really good for the future of film. 

‘Laurence Anyways’ is one of those films that are hard to shake once you see it.  I watched this last night and I’m still shaken from the experience.  I have seen very few films that have affected me in the same way, possibly none to be honest.  With ‘Laurence Anyways’, Dolan has created one of the finest films ever composed, every crafted and ever completed.  The reason for this is hard to put into words because quite frankly the reason isn’t so simple.  In fact, finding a way to shape my thoughts here into a review is proving to be extremely difficult because it find that I have so much to say and yet no idea of where to start or how to coherently express them.  I have been touched so deeply by this film and I fear I’ll never be able to do these feelings justice.

But I’ll try.

Ruiz’s exploration of life and death comes up short of profound…

Back in 2011 I was advised to see a Portuguese film entitled ‘Mysteries of Lisbon’.  It wound up being some of the most rewarding hours of my life as I completely soaked in the elegant master storytelling of the late Raoul Ruiz.  It was my first experience with the man’s work, and it was astonishing to witness.  Since then, I’ve been anxious to see more of his work, and I felt that there was no better place to start than with ‘Night Across the Street’; his final work.

Many have likened this to a weak variation of Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Wild Strawberries’, a film that I personally didn’t connect to as strongly as so many others have, but I was still very curious to see what this film had to say.  Settling in earlier this week to watch this, I was on pins and needles in anticipation, mostly because I was afraid it would let me down.

In a way, it did.