Sunday, July 22, 2012

Picking Up the Pieces: On Fearmongering and the Opening of the Dark Knight Rises

Yes, this article is about the movie theater murders in Aurora Colorado. And no, I have not yet seen The Dark Knight Rises. That's not what this is about. I work at a restaurant in a movie theater in the greater Los Angeles area and have witnessed firsthand the effect that this pointlessly stupid event has had on the opening of what promises to be an excellent achievement in filmmaking... People aren't calling for refunds or coming in to get return passes. They're just not showing up. So what we end up with is a sold out show with 50 people staggered about the 400+ auditorium. What's the deal?

The Dark Knight Rises is breaking records without its audience because people are just scared... of what you ask? Do people not go to Salt Lake City because at one time in the last three-hundred years the population was wiped out by a shift in atmospheric pressure? No. Are people afraid of drinking a McDonald's coffee because someone once scalded themselves with the drink? Probably not. And I'm not trying to compare this crime to a coffee burn, but at some point somebody has to stand up and say something. We all want to see this movie. Let's just go and see it.

Almost every news team is involved in the sensationalist hype of this one event. I was shocked to hear a network like NPR randomly asking the senseless question, "What do you think about copycat killers?" totally unprovoked. It's just negligent journalism creating mass hysteria under the guise of feeling for the families of the victims when I promise you the victims' families would rather not have to hear about those events 24-7... if at all. These journalists are grasping at an "action packed" story without considering the repercussions. They're glorifying this stupid man with infamy and potentially allowing his one act to have a much greater effect than it should. Yes, it's a tragedy, but the media should be convincing us to go back to the movies... instead they've become avatars for fearmongering and they're threatening to sink the economy amidst what should be the biggest film opening of all time.

I haven't seen the movie yet. But I am in a movie theater every day. I have no fear because there is nothing to be afraid of. Not even a little bit. In fact, movie theaters are quite suddenly safer than they've ever been. I've been putting off writing on this blog for a while now. Nothing has seemed so interesting that I've had to pick it up. But now I'm feeling like a small voice who's forced to pick up a mess that never should have been made. I can only hope that soon a day will come when the media must take responsibility for what they are doing to the people in this country. And now I want to watch Network and Broadcast News... but not until after I've watched The Dark Knight Rises... in a theater... at least six or seven times.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gold Rush 2012 (Part 1)

Silver Screener: So here we are again, another year, another Oscar race.

March King: And the competition's pretty fierce. It's nice to see a year so evenly matched across the board.

SS: And by evenly matched you mean....

MK: Well I can think of five films I'd be okay with winning best picture, two best actors, three supporting actors, three best actresses, two supporting actresses, two animated features... basically any category you look at I have multiple favorites. That is not a regular year for me. In most years previous I have had decided champions in my mind for every category, but the Oscar season has been quite good to us.

SS: Ok, I would agree with that. I was just surprised to hear you say it! I know you were disappointed with some of the snubs. But of course, now I’m curious to hear your five, two, three, three, two.

MK: Well yes, the omissions have been somewhat surprising in my mind.
You know what they say, "Unlucky at Awards Ceremonies, lucky at women and men and transgenders and... well you get the point."
But that doesn't take away from the ceremony. Now we know where the Academy is coming from in relation to the year. And it makes for an interesting demographic of performers and creators, no question. Let's start with writing, shall we? In original screenplay, I have to say Midnight in Paris and The Artist both stand a very good shot of taking the gold.
SS: It's going to be The Artist. I just feel so certain about it. I'd love for it to be Midnight in Paris, but I think overall love for the former will see it win in the Big Four.

MK: Trends do seem to be in that direction. So we move on. In adapted screenplay I have three in mind.

SS: Move on already? What about personal picks, shoulda beens, opinions on the individual nominees?

MK: (laughs) I feel like we're going to be covering Woody and Michel again pretty quickly. Do you have someone else in mind that you'd like to see get it?

SS: But I wish Diablo Cody was nominated for Young Adult.
She didn't wake up in time and missed the whole FYC campaign.
MK: Agreed agreed. I find it a sad omission, one of many. But the more I talk to people on the subject of Young Adult, the more negativity I hear. I disagree, but popular opinion seems to be against her.

SS: I still haven't seen A Separation or Margin Call.

MK: Neither have I sadly. But only so many hours in the day.

SS: Hm. Well, then, adapted. You have three possible winners or three you'd like to see win?

MK: Three I'd be okay with... Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Moneyball, and The Ides of March. And in that order.
SS: Wha--YES! YES EXACTLY! Exactly that order, exactly those three. Hugo and Descendants are waaaaay further down in the quality field.

MK: (laughs) They are. I'm left wondering what was ignored that should have been there... The Help perhaps?

SS: Eh.

MK: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

SS: Eh.

MK: Jane Eyre?
SS: Never saw it. Maybe?

MK: Maybe. While I've never read the book, I have been told that it is the most interesting adaptation of that particular story to date.

SS: Maybe. I wouldn't know. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a great movie. That's a nomination I'd've liked to see.

MK: Absolutely! Not quite enough love for that film.
At least he's got his mother's love.

But none-the-less... Sorkin is a god and Tinker Tailor was just a piece of mastery. I'd also like to see George get some recognition for his quite potent ability to captain the film ship in every aspect of the production.

SS: But we know that's not gonna happen. In my dreams, Tinker Tailor surprises in much the same way Precious did two years ago.

MK: Mmm... that would be a very nice surprise. VFX? I say Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
SS: I can see this being the category where they give a shout-out to the Harry Potter films. It's inconceivable that they haven't won a single award after all this time, and it's not going to be Art Direction or Makeup.
MK: Perhaps, but in my mind Potter doesn't even touch on how perfectly those Apes were crafted. This is one of the few categories that just seems like an easy choice to me.

SS: I’d agree, yes, but sometimes what I think is the best (in this case, Apes) doesn't match the Academy's. Like The Golden Compass.

MK: It's true. No denying, at the Oscars, nothing is ever definite.

SS: And then there's Hugo, which leads the pack with 11 nominations. It's got good chances of winning, too.
MK: Well yes, odds would say it'll take something away from this... but I just feel it's beaten in practically every category.

SS: I see Hugo winning one category, definitely, and maybe two others (besides this).

MK: You're probably right, though it pains me to say so.

SS: You'd even begrudge it Original Score? The music in that movie is magical, in a way few movie scores are. Listen to it coming off an escalator at the metro the buildings start to rise into view...yeah. And in context, it's still great! So let's discuss Original Score and how my love of Alberto Iglesias' Tinker Tailor work is deep, but not as deep as my love of Howard Shore's Hugo.

MK: (laughs) Well no one's denying Howard Shore's abilities. The man is responsible for some incredible stuff. He could win for Hugo, but that's probably the only win I'd be on board with. Still Iglesias did a phenomenal job!

SS: Agreed! My second choice! But HUGO, man! HUGO! It doesn't matter anyway, because this category will also belong to The Artist.

MK: The Artist. Could it really be the powerhouse everybody's painting it out to be?
SS: Yes. It's wins at various Guilds and BAFTAs show strong support within the industry. I don't think it's going to win all its nominations, but it would be foolish not to think the silent movie is going to win Original Score. The music is its only constant aural quality, and while the Vertigo controversy may hurt it a little, it won't be enough to make a difference.

MK: Okay, well then let's talk about this for a second. Hazanavicius constructed something baffling to most modern day audiences. He brought us a silent film... a good silent film (I'm not denying), but still it's a work that... oddly enough... relies on a gimmick. My thought here is, Woody's Midnight in Paris makes us feel similar things... brings us back to the past, makes us want to remember a time we couldn’t possibly know... and he does it all... and in my opinion better... without that gimmick. He just made a great movie. What's funny is we all assume the silent gimmick would weaken any ordinary movie, but in viewing The Artist, people still love the film. But maybe it doesn't weaken a film... maybe people just decided to actually watch this particular one because it was a "new" (old) idea. Something they weren't used to.

SS: Maybe, like anything, nothing can weaken a film as long as the film is actually good.

MK: I can't remember the last "main stream" silent. Maybe Mel Brooks' Silent Movie?

SS: That would be it, yeah.

MK: (laughs) Damn. I guess I'm just wrapped up in Woody love.

SS: I think Midnight in Paris should win Best Pic, but I don't think it's going to happen.

MK: Yeah. But here's to hoping. So let's talk editing for a moment...

SS: Ooh, now that's a category I always have trouble with. Sometimes they go for the action flicks, sometimes they go for the Best Pic frontrunner, sometimes they actually make the right call.

MK: My pick would be Dragon Tattoo. But I'd be happy with Moneyball, The Artist, or even The Descendants. Hugo is the one awkward one for me. The inconsistencies of the editing frequently pulled me out of the movie.

SS: Man, fuck The Descendants.
The editing was part of the tonal inconsistency, flat narrative, and draggy pace. Fuck that.


MK: Yet somehow it made it in over Tinker Tailor... I say they should have given it to Undefeated actually... or is a documentary ineligible for some insane reason?

SS: No, doc is eligible. It just doesn't always happen. The Artist, now, that's the award it should win, no doubt about it. It could’ve lost to Drag Tat or Moneyball, but the editing in The Artist keeps it ebullient, allows it to transition to the more dramatic section with ease.

MK: True. Those three could all take it to me. I guess my dislikes about The Descendants weren't completely based on the editing. I think there were greater woes to that overall film. But anyway... I missed every foreign language nominee... but can't believe The Skin I Live In was ignored. Those had better be some excellent flicks to win out

SS: Most of them haven't been released, I believe. Footnote, In for Bullhead and A Separation....I don’t know what Lazhar is.

MK: Yeah, it's a shame they never get those out in time for us to see. I feel like I always miss at least two in that category.

SS: Well, generally they're held on purpose so they can use the nomination/win in their marketing. It's much easier for foreign language films to get noticed that way, especially if they're more arthouse fare or don't boast known Auteurs.

MK: Hmm, so the tag "Currently Nominated" wouldn't carry some interest? Like, "Hey guys. If you want to actually care about the awards show, here's an interesting way to do that."

SS: When English-language Oscar nominees are still in theaters? Think about it.
English-language Best Picture nominees?

MK: I am, but January and February are routinely slow months at the movies anyway. Maybe that's the time for films like these to steal a little attention.

SS: Well, A Separation is, and look how that's doing.

MK: But it's such a limited release. Designated to the Laemmle annex.

SS: It would absolutely get killed in a wider market. If our theaters don't have it, it's because our theaters don't want it.

MK: Too bad. I think they'd make more money than they realize.

SS: No. They wouldn’t. Asking the average American to see a movie from Iran? Absolutely not.

MK: Paradise Now got its self an audience.

SS: Paradise Now had more controversial, timely subject matter and A Separation has already made almost twice what Paradise Now made. Paradise Now didn't have an audience so much as it had talking points. as much as I heard about Paradise Now, I don't remember meeting anyone who saw it, or reading any reviews.

MK: It was... not amongst my favorites. (laughs)

SS: A Separation probably won't win anyway, because it's rare that the Big One does.

MK: Ex. Pan's Labyrinth.

SS: It's probably going to be Footnote or Monsieur Lazhar.

MK: But a separation has a nomination for screenplay as well. That's kind of a big deal. Truly rare.

SS: I will give you the screenplay nom. All I know is, when we had Incendies in Boca, we had to avoid discussing the Middle Eastern aspect of the story (which is the WHOLE THING) because to mention a non-Israeli Middle Eastern movie was to mention THE DEVIL HIMSELF.

MK: (laughs) But we're in Hollywood and I've seen surprising movies take off in this market. Honestly it's difficult to know what will make it here. I've seen tiny moves thrive and massive movies flop... hard. The film-going culture is changing
and sometimes it's just worth making an actual push.

SS: If you can afford it.

Sorry folks. We got a little carried away. The rest of the conversation will be up shortly in The Silver Screening Room.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raccoons Get Their Feet In The Door

"If you don't put your stuff out there, no one's ever gonna see it." This should be an obvious sentiment for anyone trying to make it in the arts... and really it's more of a life credo. There's no reason not to do something you've never done before so long as you've got the time... which you do. But so many people are scared to death of exposing themselves to new experiences. Look, I am not the best example of this, but in the last year I've turned things around by changing my own point of view. When I used to fight the idea of going and doing things I deemed dangerous in the past, I will now simply jump on the opportunity and always feel much better for trying.

The most current example? Well just next month I will be participating in the International Family Film Festival with one of my best friends. Together we wrote an animated screenplay: Critter Crossing. And one day we decided we should enter it... and now it's in... our tiny screenplay is an official selection at a pretty special event. That gives me hope. Mostly because we actually saw a good opportunity and took advantage of it (this is my first festival as a writer). Rather than deny ourselves the opportunity out of fear of failure, we managed to enter and who knows, maybe even win for our writing abilities.

Something that gets me excited here is, we'll get to see a reading of a key scene as done by a professional group of actors. And then my friend and I will be involved in a Q&A. I guess I'm just happy knowing that we found one festival that we liked, entered it, and got in on our first try... in a way it's validating the fact that we weren't just making believe we had something good. Now if only we could sell the thing...

If you'd like to learn more about the event, you can do so HERE.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Biggest Oscar Snubs

Now that the nominees have been given a time to settle in... and we've been able to catch those few final 2011 pictures that we didn't have a chance to see until now two months into 2012... I'd like to take a moment and discuss the baffling "For Your Consideration" contenders who somehow didn't make the cut.

In Acting:

Michael Fassbender - Best Actor
Between Shame, A Dangerous Method, and Jane Eyre I was assuming somebody would have stood up and said, "Hey, Michael Fassbender's having a breakout season! Maybe he deserves something for his (not so surprisingly) excellent work!" But alas, he's been avoided. I had assumed that, with the popularity of Inglorious Bastards, the way he managed to make X-Men First Class miraculously not suck, and well... a should be winning performance in Shame the academy would be chomping at the bit to get his name into the ceremony somewhere. After all, lately it seems a quick pan over to him in the audience would make many ladies swoon. Oh well, we should be seeing him up for many awards in the future.

Ryan Gosling - Best Actor
True, he's had a few chances already, but that's no excuse to ignore two excellent performances in Drive and The Ides of March. In fact, Ryan and Emma Stone were the only things that kept me watching Crazy, Stupid, Love. In the end I put this one up to a stacked category. Better luck next time.

Tom Hardy - Best Supporting Actor
Warrior and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy are amongst the largest oversights in this years ceremony. And Tom Hardy deserves serious recognition for both of them. He's really shown us his ability to mutate his performances this year. And that is a major step toward being a truly great actor.

Between the three actors I have just listed, I'm hoping to see a new era in the "Best Actor Race". Like the old days of Pacino, DeNiro, and Hoffman... or Dean and Brando... I think we're in for more than a few treats in the coming years.

Brian Cox - Best Supporting Actor
In Coriolanus, Brian Cox gave one hell of a performance. And if he were up for this award I would have him winning in any Oscar pool. But somehow the man came up dry this year.  This may be my biggest disappointment of the season.

Carey Mulligan -Best Supporting Actress
She's really coming into her own these days surprising me in both Drive and Shame this year to the point that I pretty much will see any movie with her name on it (not an easy feet). I'll be rooting for Carey Mulligan in the years to come.

In Film:

Shame - Best Picture, Best Director
This one's a long shot, but the film was truly excellent. I think the NC-17 knocked a few voters out of contention, and yes that statement surprises me as well. But that rating was actually necessary for this film. And in my opinion it was done as tastefully as other R-rated movies look at war and the like. But we live in a prudish country. And while a large percentile of the film community is more open-minded about... well everything... there are still stragglers in each major branch of the sexuality conversation.

Drive - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography
What a good little movie. Drive was just interesting. It had a classic appeal while hitting its crescendos harder than most films in recent memory. With all of the buzz Nicolas Winding Refn had been getting leading up to the nominations I had definitely put him before Scorsese and Payne.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography
I can't speak highly enough about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I may be in the minority, but everything about this flick works for me. And anyone in the film industry that doesn't see the high quality of each separate part that went into making this picture, makes me sad for the direction we may see things go in the near future. But that's rambling, and I don't truly believe we'll see such a slump. 2012 does look promising.

Warrior - Best Picture
I would have no problem with this film winning the ultimate prize. But it was neglected, ignored... and I don't understand why. I guess many members of the academy just didn't take it seriously on initial release and I may be speculating, but they probably didn't run the most aggressive of "FYC" campaigns. They got Nick Nolte on the board. But in my opinion, either of the leads would be more deserving of the nod.

Winnie the Pooh - Best Animated Feature
The quality of Winnie the Pooh is surprising in the same way that learning blueberries are good for you is surprising. Everyone should be expecting something good from a new Pooh movie so long as it sticks to the source material... and it did. Since Rio was allowed to be ignored (thank god), I had hoped we might see some of the less noticed animated films get a chance. We did I suppose, but not in the way I anticipated.

African Cats
Disney Nature is doing an excellent job. If March of the Penguins can take it all, I think African Cats should at least be up for the honor. And since I have seen the majority of those nominated I feel I can say that this was more deserving than... at least two of those that made it.

Ralph Fiennes - Best Director
I've made myself more than clear about my feelings here. It's too bad some superior work get pushed to the side... but I guess some people in the industry don't think it's all that important to actually go out and see new movies.

That's all I've got right now. But as I finish off those last few films (I'm down to 5 or 6 I think) I may have some more to say on the subject. I am still excited for this years Oscars, but I would be more excited if any of these listed were in contention.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Oscar Love (and hate): Part 2

In the last few day I was able to trim the short list of films I've missed down to seven. Hopefully I'll be able to catch the rest very soon and add a little more complete insight into the Oscar race this year. That being said, let's get to it.


Who I'd like to see win: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
What Terrence Malick did was create something poetic on a grand scale. I've spoken in some depth about this film here. The bleeding fact is the film would be nothing without Terrence's masterful direction. In his long (and very short) career he has made both films I love and films I hate. But it's never been because his directing prowess was lacking. Most of his films still work on some level just because he is such an interesting force behind the camera.

Who I think will win: Alexander Payne, The Descendants
I like Alexander Payne. I've enjoyed all of his movies. But his winning this award would be a mistake. This is honestly his weakest picture to date, and this category is too strong for him to be allowed to slip in by merit alone. Frankly, the only way Alexander Payne wins for this film, is politics.


Who I'd like to see win: Michael O'Connor, Jane Eyre
There was a presence in this film. It was as if everything had come together just right to make what we saw on screen absolutely believable. At least, the imagery was there. If there were any weakness in Jane Eyre (which there may have been) it wasn't because of the art department and it certainly wasn't because of Michael O'Connor. I commend the man for a job well done.

Who I think will win: Michael O'Connor, Jane Eyre
This is honestly a no brainer to me, but then I've been wrong before.


Who I'd like to see win: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
This film was haunting, and as in the Directing category, I often feel a great cinematographer is an extension of a great director. They work as a team and invent something wholly beautiful. And this one came out just right in the imagery department.

Who I think will win: Janusz Kaminski, War Horse
Janusz Kaminski is among the best. That's fact, not opinion. I think this year is just an extension of his long and illustrious career.


Who I'd like to see win: Anne Seibel and Hélène Dubreuil, Midnight in Paris
When you fall into so many pasts and never feel out of place, there's something magical to that. Midnight in Paris is worthy of every award it's been nominated for and I'm gunning for the academy to recognize the amazing subtlety that these two brought to the world.

Who I think will win: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hugo
Look, it's probably gonna win something. But this somehow seems wrong. The train station was massively designed and everything about the movie had a very specific style to it... Just, to me, that style didn't work. Very little worked in Hugo and I'm expecting that fans of the film will be disappointed in the lack of Oscars it actually receives after so many nominations. I think this is one of the better things the movie has to offer, but I don't think it did its job... I mean, I think it drew more attention away from the performances (which perhaps should have been ignored anyway) than it should have. And when a piece of a team ignores the rest of that team to try and gain simply for its self, it usually just makes the incongruity of everything else more apparent. I would prefer to see Midnight in Paris or Harry Potter or The Artist... or War Horse win before this.


This is my most difficult category...

Who I'd like to see win: Kung Fu Panda 2
At the end of the day, I think Dreamworks has turned their act around. This year they annihilated Pixar (2 nominees to Pixar's 0). And I think Kung Fu Panda 2 should be the frontrunner for the award. Everything in the film worked for me... especially that ending which was so well earned. I can't speak highly enough about this film.

Who I think will win: Rango
But then, I don't know. I loved Rango as well... though not as much as Kung Fu Panda 2. And I list it here as an example of how good this category is. Anyone could win (with the probable exception of Puss in Boots). I don't know enough about Chico & Rita or A Cat in Paris to put them in the running here, so Rango takes the probable possible position. But really, Kung Fu Panda 2 should win.


Who I'd like to see win: Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
In a silent role, she commanded attention and was instantly lovable. I think that's at least worthy of some note.

Who I think will win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
She deserves it. Something about her attitude was right on the money. She proved that a potentially annoying character could be thoroughly lovable if put in the right hands. Bravo.


Who I'd like to see win: Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
If Marilyn Monroe can be recreated on screen, Michelle Williams comes as close to doing it as I've ever seen. She's grown into quite an actress. And for my money I'd give her a chance at shining in almost any movie.

Who I think will win: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
I've learned one thing since I began watching the Oscars at least twenty years ago... don't underestimate Meryl Streep. If she is in a movie, she will probably be nominated for an Oscar, no matter how bad the surrounding movie is. And if that surrounding movie is any good, she will probably win. Well, The Iron Lady is somewhat good. And Meryl is up to the pedestal already giving a cheerful speech about all the wonderful people in the room she knows and you know what? Everybody's okay with this. Even the women she beats out are okay with it. And that my friends is called power.


Who I'd like to see win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
I really liked Beginners. And I liked Christopher Plummer even more than I liked the movie. So that's key.

Who I think will win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
It probably won't be Jonah Hill. That would really be insane. He was interesting to watch, butnot an Oscar winner... but then we'll see.  But if I've learned anything (other than the Meryl thing... which is true by the way) it's that age, respect, and the recognition of a long and wearied career proving that it still has some life left to it will usually beat out the newcomer... usually. Yeah, there's a chance that Nick Nolte or Max von Sydow may get it for similar reasons. And Kenneth Branagh impressed me even more once I went back and watched Sir Laurence Olivier in interviews. But in my mind, Christopher Plummer has hit the gas. After all, he was the most fun nominee to watch.


Who I'd like to see win: Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Here's the idea, Gary Oldman has been consistently ignored by the academy. It's funny in a way because he probably has turned out more Best Supporting Actor worthy performances in the last twenty years than most actors do in their entire careers. But the joke is that he is forgotten because he's so good. The academy doesn't nominate him because they forget that they are even watching him. They just assume that he is the character in the movie and there for that actor must be just like the character he is playing (something we know to be false). But they couldn't ignore him this year, and yes it was a damn subtle performance... but thank god. It's nice to see a barebones, "this is the character this is what he'd do," approach actually get some attention.

Who I think will win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Look, George Clooney did not earn Best Actor this year. Neither did Brad Pitt. They gave solid performances and can be seen as frontrunners, but neither one of them actually proved to anyone that they deserved this award. Demián Bichir probably won't win just because I don't believe enough of the academy has seen A Better Life to vote for him... but The Artist has been a massive success and I think a number of people have the words "upset" running through their minds. I want Gary to win, but I'm not just looking at it from the angle of, "who's got the best acting chops." I'm trying to think from an academy member's perspective. Politically (in the film world sense) what would it mean for a French actor to take the award? What did it mean when Roberto Benigni took it back in 1998?


This year is so absurdly a toss up, because each of these films is so very different. But I'm gonna look at it thinking about the past... and what the academy wants to say about the future. That's a tough thing to do. But maybe it's just this. The best movie should win and we will try to figure out what that is. Sometimes we'll fail (Crash), but we'll always at least try.

Who I'd like to see win: Midnight in Paris
This is, in my opinion, the most complete film in the category. I've not met a single person who didn't like it. And there's no film, in my mind, that could prove its self more worthy of recognition this year.  If you've seen it, you can at least agree with me that it accomplished what it set out to accomplish... and I'd like to see Woody back in the spotlight. If you haven't seen it, stop griping about how boring Woody Allen is and actually give him a chance. He's a top ten director. And he's made a top ten (or top nine according to the academy) film.

Who I think will win: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Okay, this film surprised me. It is undoubtedly the best movie I've seen on the subject of 9/11. And I probably cried in the theatre. Though it managed to uplift me at the same time and I left with an extra pep in my step. I think this is the film the academy can agree on. And it's a good one. I wouldn't complain. Honestly the only films I'd gripe about are Hugo and The Descendants, just because they didn't make it this far on their own merits. But after the victory by The King's Speech, I have more faith in the academy to at least try to find something everybody can agree is good.

Well, there you have it. Once I see more foreign films and documentaries, I'll give a comment on those guys. And I've got a few Oscar articles in store for the month of February, but this should help show where I'm coming from. And perhaps what collective pieces help me to form an opinion. I hope the Oscars are good this year. Billy Crystals back, and that's a very good thing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Oscar Love (and hate): Part 1

As of now I still have nine films left to see amongst the nominees (not including shorts and obscurities still  unavailable in the US). But the list is out. And most members of the Academy still miss at least a few of the short-listers. So what do I think about the final ballot?

WRITING (Original Screenplay)

This is a tough category, and while I have missed two of the films I still feel the three I have seen all have a decent chance of winning.

Who I'd like to see win: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Something about this film works so much better than I could have anticipated. Woody took a very simple idea worthy of a creative writing course in high school and made a highly memorable film out of it. I think he deserves to win just for showing us his mastery.

Who I think will win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
And I can't argue with this. He made something no one's even attempted in decades. He found someone willing to produce it and now there's this charming little film just resting in the memories of people all over the world.

WRITING (Adapted Screenplay)

Who I'd like to see win: Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Solder Spy
They took an interesting story and ingratiated themselves into an understated, breathing film. I commend bravery and I think this film stinks of it. Just wish it was up for Best Picture.

Who I think will win: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball
I like this film a lot... and I love Sorkin. But the vast majority of baseball fans were decidedly unimpressed by this feature. The thought being, it didn't even try to tell the true story and missed most of the key marks. Still, as an active ignorant of Baseball (it's too boring for me) I find the final film at least interesting.


Who I'd like to see win: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Nothing else this year compares. Just watching Caesar's expressions is amazing. But then consider, he was more believable than most of the human actors and you know you've got something special.

Who I think will win: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The obvious front runner takes it. And thank god, if Real Steel went away with a statue I don't think I'd believe in a benevolent universe any more.


Who I'd like to see win: Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson, War Horse
The sound had to be perfect and I think it really was. To make an audience care about a horse in the middle of, well, a war... your lead doesn't have any lines... sound has to come up big. And it does.

Who I think will win: Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I hope this doesn't happen. Once again Michael Bay has made a piece of shit and called it art. The movie is too convoluted and as with the others that came before it, I have trouble understanding which robot is even doing what at what time and for what reason. But then, almost like clockwork, a bad movie always walks away with something.


Who I'd like to see win: Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis, Drive
This film breathes so well. And the sound is pitch perfect.

Who I think will win: Ren Klyce, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I'd be okay with this, though I feel the sound did more for Drive. They honestly are very close in quality, so I just assume the more popular film will win.

MUSIC (Original Song)

Who I'd like to see win: Bret McKenzie, Man or Muppet from The Muppets
This song was so very fun. I personally can't wait to see it performed at the ceremony.

Who I think will win: Bret McKenzie, Man or Muppet from The Muppets
Like Real Steel, if I see Rio walk away with a statue, my brain may implode. And this Muppets song is just so much more interesting.

MUSIC (Original Score)

Who I'd like to see win: Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tinker Tailor just did everything right for me, so I'm gunning for it in every category. Score is a big one as that specifically helped make the movie for me.

Who I think will win: John Williams, War Horse (or The Adventures of Tintin)
I just find it hard to believe that John gets nominated twice in one year and doesn't take the prize... but then there's always the possibility that he splits his votes.


Who I'd like to see win: Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
With the exception of the aging makeup at the end, I've liked what they've done with this whole franchise in the looks department.

Who I think will win: Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle, Albert Nobbs
This is one of the films I missed, but based on what I've seen in promos, and assuming the aging makeup does effect the voters opinions, the door is open for something odd like making a woman a man to take the cake.


Who I'd like to see win: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
This may be biased, but I just don't like the editing in the original film. So to see this version succeed so completely where the other one fell short... well tat gets me giddy. I like both films, but that one quality of the original takes away so much from my experience.

Who I think will win: Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
I just think there's nothing else to compare this to in the last fifty years. And I feel the voters will jump on the bandwagon. After all, I can't believe that one of the others like Hugo would even stand a chance. Man did I dislike the editing in Hugo.

I'll be back to talk about the rest of the awards in Part 2.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Praising George Lucas For A Change??

Before you get the wrong idea, this is not an article about Red Tails. This is simply a decisive article about my opinion of Lucas' most recent statement wherein he said that he is retiring from "blockbuster" filmmaking. Thank God. Between the Star Wars prequels and the Indiana Jones sequel I honestly didn't know how much more I could take from the one time phenom. And to put it more clearly, I think Red Tails looks like the work of a confused, misguided filmmaker a la Oliver Stone's Alexander. Some times passion projects just don't make sense. The long and short of it is this, Lucas is a tired old man with little left in the way of ideas... so he has to edit and reedit his old work until it no longer resembles the thing we once loved. He has, over the course of the last twenty years, essentially ruined his two great franchises. And in the wake of this, I've personally discovered that his other films just don't interest me in the slightest. American Graffiti is incredibly overrated and contrived even for its time. And THX 1138... well I can't say overrated because I have yet to meet anyone who likes the film... but it is certainly derivative in the worst kind of way (ie. we can see the cut and paste from the literature he copied). Then suddenly even his greatest achievements become derivative as Lucas himself calls Star Wars a remake of The Hidden Fortress. In the end, I've come to find that Lucas has never had an original idea, rather he has surrounded himself with people that make him look better. The mere fact that he calls The Empire Strikes Back his least favorite Star Wars should be proof enough that he simply doesn't understand. Empire is the one that he didn't write and man does it show. So yes, I am praising Lucas (in a rather negative way). Thank you for what you have done... the wonderful things you gave me in my childhood. But thank you even more... for going away. Your presence will not be missed on the film front. Leave the rest to Spielberg. He's the reason we've put up with you for so long anyway.

I'm not a negative person, but when someone so frequently destroys the things I love, I can only be malicious in return. It's simple like that. We fans can only take so much abuse before we snap. And the studios clearly get it... not giving Lucas any help in producing his latest film. Now if we could only get quality, untouched editions of those great classics that made us like him to begin with...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Joss Whedon Is Becoming A Production Machine

The speculation on late blooming Cabin In The Woods can take a backseat in my mind for the next couple months (it comes out in April) as I mull over the fact that one of my favorite, frequently ignored writer/directors, Joss Whedon is on a mission. With Cabin looming, Joss has recently finished production on big budget Marvel/Disney tentative blockbuster The Avengers as well as a very under the radar adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (a personal favorite of mine). And now he's announced yet another mystery project (In Your Eyes?). What excites me most is the idea that Joss Whedon who has suffered more than a few set backs in recent years (Dollhouse cancelled, Firefly cancelled, Angel cancelled) is blooming into a production machine.
Dr. Horrible was a tremendous success and it seems studios are finally recognizing what an excellent creative mind Joss has. But let's not ignore the other factor that I am certain studios are salivating for; Joss can make quality material, cheaply. Dr. Horrible had literally no budget and won an Emmy. Much Ado was shot over a long vacation weekend and I'm assuming it'll be of good quality. Not to mention, the man is responsible for a massive television franchise in Buffy and Angel respectively. His film Serenity was only made because diehard fans pushed for the Firefly finale to happen. People are genuinely passionate about Joss' work. I know I am. And I'm excited to see what new steps he takes with his career once The Avengers comes along. I thoroughly expect it to be big, hard hitting, excitement.