Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Trailers: The Soloist (2009)

I didn't post this, even when I thought it was coming out in November. It will actually be coming out in the Spring, FYI. Different look for Joe Wright.

Review: Revolutionary Road (2008)

Sam Mendes is really good at making movies at depress the hell out of me.

What we have here is a very rough look at the plastic life of 50's American Suburbia through the eyes of Frank and April Wheeler (Leo and Kate), a young married couple who felt the pressure of society and "resigned from life", as they say.

The film starts out very well; we see how they meet, then BAM, they're married and with two kids. Before the title screen appears we've already seen one of their knock down, drag out wars (which, by the end, we will have gotten used to). It's a great great way to establish the setting. Okay, they're young, married, and unhappy.

Through more drama and infidelities, they decide that the time has come to be courageous and move away, far away, and start a life somewhere else, where-get ready for it-the wife will support the husband. Through this we see how different the Wheelers are from everybody else, despite how well they seem to fit the mold. They're depressed, and now I am too. But, it's refreshing to see married life portrayed so brutally, and (SPOILER ALERT) with no happy ending.

Mendes gives us a superficial world where ignoring someone is as easy as turning the volume on your hearing aid down. Or, getting over the loss of a friend by inviting the new neighbors over. It was a time when everybody was too busy over their martinis and cigarettes to give a damn about anybody else, as long as they all behaved the same. It's perfect.

I almost feel bad for thinking that the acting wasn't great. I rather felt that the two... Do you call them protagonists? I can't say I was definitely rooting for them. They both showed qualities that were far from admirable. Anyway, the two leads, I felt they overacted. I love Kate, I love Leo. But, they were not real great. Leo, I felt, was good when he was out of control. I think that kind of acting would be a fun challenge, and I think he took it and ran. Kate.... What happened? Maybe she'll be good in The Reader.

Just because it was sad, tough to watch, and made me numb, doesn't mean I didn't like it. On the contrary, I thought it was beautifully crafted. Heartbreaking, but beautiful.

They should call it Revolutionary Road, or further proof that Sam Mendes hates the suburbs.

Grade: B

Random News: Fox seeking Watchmen delay...

First there was this, now there's this:

Watchmen is not going to end 2008 on a high note. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a lawyer for 20th Century Fox has said that the studio will seek an order delaying the release of the film. Ever since Fox first filed its suit, Watchmen fans have been panicked that the film's legal woes would delay its March 6 release. Seriously, Fox, don't you just want some money? A nice chunk of money? Don't kick the Watchmen when they're down.


Warner Bros. must be hurting right now. Hey, at least they had The Dark Knight, eh?

Random News: Harry Potter franchise ending early?

From Cinematical:

If you thought the delayed release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was too much to bear, what about never ever getting to see how things wrap up on the big screen? In the wake of news that Disney had dumped Narnia, The Independent reports that Harry Potter could be next.


For Christ' sake.

Trailers: Clive Owen double feature

The International

Duplicity (I'm loathe to admit that this looks better than I thought it would be. Trust in Tony Gilroy)

Does anyone think these movies look kinda the same?

I want to watch Children of Men again...

Review: Australia (2008)

Calling all script editors: Baz Luhrmann is hiring.

Or at least he should be. I'm pretty confused what his latest film is really about.

Is it about cattle wars? Sure, there's about 90 minutes dedicated to the rivalry between Faraway Downs (owned and operated by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, respectively) and King Carney (Bryan Brown and his lackey, David Wenham). It's fun, it's exciting, and it has a happy ending.

But, could it also be about the injustice towards aborigine children, which is an underlying theme throughout the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes. The young child Nullah (Brandon Walters, who carries the weight of the film), is half white, and is constantly alert to "coppers" who will take him away to cleansing camps--where they "breed the black out of him."

Aye, it's most certainly about that.

But it's also about the Japanese attacks in Darwin. This small segment is Lurhman's answer to Pearl Harbor. After the attack, though, there's still like 3 hours of film left. I'm like, what's going on? How many movies is this?

Annnd it's a love story. Very dull. Very sappy. Very fluffy. There's way too much going on in this film. Wasn't there some sort of controversy before about the ending? Well, my complaint is that it's too long. About an hour and a half too long.

The first 20 minutes, I was ready to love it. It's super stylish and funny and pretty. Very Baz Luhrmann. I was like "hey! why is this getting such poor reviews?" Then I find out. It continues on with surface, but no substance. Ugh... Somebody help this film. Like a SCRIPT EDITOR.

Oh look at that, I think this review may need an editor too.

P.S. When is David Wenham going to get his own movie? He's forever the secondary character, and even though he was the main baddie in this, I still wanted to marry him. Oh, I've loved him too long. I think he really needs to get his own film.

Grade: C?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Hm. Most movies I see, I can still enjoy them while still thinking about what I'm going to write here. I tried to think about that for this film, but I couldn't. I still don't know what I'm going to write. So, this will be plain, I think.

I will start out by saying that this film is gorgeous. It's so, so pretty.

This movie is long. It's about 2:40. But, I daresay it is quite necessary for it to be this way. It's not unbearable, but it really does feel like a lifetime. That's... Good, right?

The film raises lots of questions, kind of heavy ones. Like, how do you handle the fact that you outlive everybody you know, before you've even had a chance to really live? Born as an old man, Benjamin Button spends most of his time with the elderly, and they all die when he is still very young. However later in his life he's able to have life experiences in a young man's body with the knowledge and wisdom and experience of an old man. Heavy stuff. Kinda depressing. It's a film that redefines the phrase "growing old together.

Wow. Brad Pitt. Man. What a handsome devil. Even when he's old. Good news for him, right? He was, of course, terrific. He showed great maturity in his expressions. His character is faced with the challenge of growing up very quickly, and it's so so perfect, what he does. Cate Blanchett's character Daisy (and Benjamin's great love), is a bit of the opposite. She's selfish and naive, young and carefree. But always she's played with effortless grace. However, I didn't like her character, which made some of the film kind of annoying.

The biggest accomplishment probably has to be when Benjamin is a young boy in an old man's body. He has great curiosity in his expressions, and innocent looks of hurt and confusion. It's heartbreaking to see such unsheltered emotions on an old man's face. I don't know how much is computer and how much is actor. You kind of always feel really sorry for Benjamin throughout this whole film. It's like, jesus christ. Can he get a break? The answer: No. He cannot.

This film is a whole lot of pretty and a bit of substance. But the slow southern drawl of Brad Pitt's narration is a tad cringe-worthy, and reminiscent of Forrest Gump (which I hated). There's so much bittersweetness that I grimace a bit.

In short: This movie is not as amazing as it should be.

Grade: B-

Friday, December 26, 2008

Review: Frost/Nixon (2008)

I was right to be excited about this one, because it is superb. I don't know why, but when I think of a Ron Howard film, I think pseudo directing. Maybe the DaVinci Code did that for me. Or How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Or Cinderella Man. He's sometimes hard to figure out.

But here, I think he hit the mark. Frost/Nixon is about the aftermath of the notorious Watergate scandal, and Richard Nixon's resignation from office. Of course, after seeing it, that's not what it's really about. It's about a battle of wills between two men.

Frost and Nixon, played by Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, respectively, reprising their roles from broadway (I can't imagine how sick I would be of a role if I played it for a run on Broadway, then in a movie), both deliver devastatingly fantastic performances. I'm young, and to be honest I really don't know anything about Richard Nixon and especially not David Frost, but I trust that they're both good depictions of their characters. There is a scene where Frank Langella is talking to Michael Sheen on speakerphone, so he's able to use his whole body to act, and he does. He does it without having anybody present to work off of. I thought that was fantastic.

The film opens with a tense collage of archival footage, giving viewers a brief history of the last days of Nixon's presidency. I'm reminded very much of Steven Spielberg's Munich, showing just an outdoor show of the White House, with the implied "He's in there somewhere... What's he thinking?" It's very effective, and I'm drawn in immediately.

As for secondary characters, Sam Rockwell has to take the gold here. He plays a passionate anti-Nixon author devoted to "giving him the trial he never had." I loved watching him. He was very earnest, very believable, and very very good. Following him are Oliver Platt and Matthew McFadyen, playing the other two members of Frost's team. They all had great chemistry. Kevin Bacon's role of Nixon Chief of Staff Jack Brennan almost seemed like a joke. Like he was mocking him, with his VERY earnest reactions to Nixon's tale of his daughter hugging him with tears in her eyes when he was about to resign; "That's Beautiful.." Don't get me wrong, he was great, but the character is.. Weird.

This movie has great moments of tension, a fair few moments of comedy, and just the tiniest bit of history thrown in. The premise itself, of forcing President Nixon to apologize to the American People, is apparently much more dramatized than it was, and less important in real life. Or at least, my dad tells me so.

Grade: A

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My present sadness...

I still have a few movies to see before the official movie year is over (this being, in little minneapolis, sometime in january), and I know I'm going to break 80 for the year, but won't reach 100. Maybe that's not something to get bent out of shape about, but next year might not be as plentiful. I haven't been employed at a movie theater since September, and in the dead months of February, March and April, the only reason I saw most of the movies I did is because they were free and convenient.

Well for the love of Christ.

Current Total: 77
Projected Total: 88-90

I can live with that. I GUESS.

Review: Hellboy II The Golden Army (2008)

More catch up. I sort of saw this by accident, but it's all good. I knew going into it that I would be entertained. And, well, I pretty much was. I don't feel the need to review this... So I won't. It was good and pretty, and fun. Isn't that what a summer movie is supposed to be? Seemingly, though all the movies that came out this summer pretty much kicked the ass of any other movie that has or will come out.

Yes, I'm going to continue advocating for Summer Movies. Because they didn't let me down.

Grade: B


Review: Yes Man (2008)

Yeah, I saw Yes Man. On purpose. Jim Carrey makes Jim Carrey movies, just as Will Ferrell makes Will Ferrell movies.. So, I really got nothing more I expected out of this one. That doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining. It's one of those movies where you know you shouldn't want to, but you kinda do.

The premise is simple, he is a negative nancy (named Carl) who is changed by a convention into saying "yes" to every opportunity. So, he does, and lo, how his life changes. He gets a promotion, becomes fluent in many new skills, and falls in love with a quirky, free spirited girl that is totally the opposite of him (everybody's favorite Zooey Deschanel).

The best part, though, is his geeky boss, Norman (who he calls Norm once, and then in turn becomes "Car" for the rest of the movie. Brilliant) played by Rhys Darby (of Flight of the Conchord fame). What worries me is that he is essentially playing the same character, except maybe a bit more polished, and slightly cleverer. Actors got to make their way somehow, though, and he is a fantastically funny actor. My favorite scene: Norman hosts a "dress like your favorite Harry Potter character" party. Oh my god, I want to go to one! I can't really describe WHY it's so funny, but it is. I would see that whole movie again just for Rhys Darby. Or I suppose I could watch Flight of the Conchords, which is actually excellent.

I don't even know why this film needs a review. You already know how you're going to like it before you step foot into the theater.

Grade: C

Review: Doubt (2008)

Doubt is a story of moral ambiguity, incorporating aspects of christianity and philosophy... It makes you think. I like that.

Doubt is a quiet film. It's set simply in the 60's, in a Catholic church/school. We see the workings of the school, how they are trying to reform their image slowly but surely, and one who firmly holds onto tradition and 'decency'. Meryl Streep, in another great role. Some may think she's "trying too hard", but I say, on the contrary, it's an effortless performance. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays her nemesis, the priest who has (maybe??) committed wrong doings, of the altar boy persuasion.

Amy Adams, who, while not cast in the typical flighty role (which she DOES do extraordinarily well), is still marked as the quiet, young, and naïve nun, who is smack dab in the middle of the clash of Streep's heavy-hitting Sister Aloysius and Hoffman's Father Flynn. Even though Adams is playing a serious role, though, she still sounds about 12 years old. But, that works; she has a simple heart, and trusts in what she believes--contradictory to the theme of the entire movie (you guessed it, "doubt").

This, aside from a few excellent dutch angles, which I couldn't get enough of, is ordinary enough, but it's truly an actor's movie. I think those who are in it, bring it.

Grade: B

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: A Christmas Tale (2008)

Just in time for Christmas, a film about a dysfunctional family. That's what Christmas movies are, aren't they?

This is another one of those families though, where the two elderly parents adore each other still after all these years, live in a fantastic house, live a life of immense culture and happiness. They have children who are all vastly different in their qualities, and they, in turn, have beautiful children. They all come together for Christmas because the mother is dying.

In this case, the mother, Junon, is legendary french actress Catherine Deneuve. She needs a bone marrow transplant, and the only one who can save her is her estranged son Henri (Mathieu Almaric). Henri has been banished by his eldest sister Elizabeth (Anne Consigny), for reasons we don't know and never find out. Apparently nobody else in the family knows either why Henri was forced to keep his distance for 5 years. At first, he seems perfectly likable, and I don't see why his family is supposed to have hated him. Junon professes to not care for him, a sentiment which he happily returns. He transpires to be rude and abrasive, but overall it seems very forced. It's like there was a scramble for him to look unfavorable, so they wrote him some crude dialogue. However, there were one or two scenes where I could see his unruliness, and that's when he was talking to Elizabeth's son, Paul. Paul is mentally unstable, and incidentally, a match for Junon's marrow type. He sees this as a means to bond with his uncle, but it turns out very quickly that Henri is neither interested, or very good at playing the "fun uncle".

Eventually, he seems to have a change of heart. Whatever happens to him, it's not exactly clear, but he becomes genial with his mother, and seems hell-bent on saving her life by doing an organ transplant. And they don't like each other? Perhaps Deneuve and Almaric have too much chemistry, because I couldn't see their supposed dislike for each other. That, and when Henri brings his new girlfriend to the house, all they can ask her is how she puts up with him. First, how insulting, and second, I bet I could put up with him; he doesn't seem bad at all.

The youngest son, Ivan, is the most "perfect" of the three (Elizabeth is a whiny and morose downer the entire film) with a likable wife, and two young, talented sons. However since he's the most grounded, he invariably will attract some difficulties. His wife struggles with newfound information and events transpire that might seem odd and rather unorthodox to our American standards. It was strange, I'll say that.

The acting was good, but for what they were trying to convey, it wasn't happening.

The filmmaking is smart; it employs several different styles and techniques, plays with filters, and narration styles. The location is the small picturesque town of Roubaix, on the edge of northern France. It's pretty, and makes for pretty filmmaking. It clocks in at around 2:30 but it didn't feel long. I found it quick-paced, aesthetically, pleasing; all around an engaging film. In retrospect, it's just another dysfunctional family film, but its quirks are smarter and slightly bolder in its ambiguity.

A worthwhile Christmas film.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Marathon-Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Cut)

Why today? It's significant because it's 5 years exactly since Return of the King opened in theaters. And I was there. It's special to me.
Rules? Watch all the way through to the end of the credits.

8:00 AM: Second attempt at waking up with 7:00 AM wake-up call didn't go as planned. I tried. I really tried.
8:14 AM: Waiting for oven to heat up to make cinnamon rolls.
8:20 AM: I put FOTR into the dvd player and wait for the cinnamon rolls to bake. It's almost time.
8:35 AM: Breakfast is ready, time to start. Keeping the volume at 5 for now. When roommate wakes up, as will the volume.

8:36 AM: FOTR has officially begun
0:03: Heh. Hugo Weaving is so cool
0:10: "The Fellowship of the Ring"
0:59: Viggo Mortensen. Huzzah.
1:45: The fellowship is formed, the first disc is done. It takes 40 seconds to start the second, and not a moment too soon; I was starting to get sleepy.
2:10: The Tomb of Balin. I'm sick of this scene already because I spent 3 days there in the Two Towers game for PS2
2:28: Legolas' first pained expression makes an appearance
2:47: Legolas' Lembas Commercial. "One small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man!"
3:12: Legolas' second pained expression; Boromir is slain. The fellowship has disbanded.
3:18: "Let's hunt some Orc." Hellll yeah!
3:20: Frodo and Sam start their trek into uncertainty; credits commence.
3:26: "Special Thanks to the Official Lord of the Rings fan club. It's already been a minute of a lot of names.. We're only on the B's. It could take a while longer.
3:46: The Credits have ended! The Fellowship of the Ring is over. 2 more installments to go.

12:26 PM: The Two Towers is in, and it beigins....Now.
0:02: "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" Again!
0:04: "The Two Towers"
0:16: Pippin drops the leaf from his cloak.
0:18: Aragorn finds leaf from Pippin's cloak
0:23: Enter Eomer!
0:31: "A red sun rises.... Blood has been spilled this night." Legolas is useless
0:36: Uruk-Hai on a stick
0:51: "This forest is old.... Very old.... Full of memory.........and anger."
0:53: Gandalf returns, Legolas indulges us with another pained expression.
0:58: Time to break for lunch. Hopefully shouldn't take longer than 20 minutes.
1:40 PM: Back! Movie resumes
1:13: Glorious Edoras
1:25: That pretty, pretty funeral scene
1:45: Enter Faramir!!
1:46: End of 3rd disc
2:01: Aragorn tumbles off the cliff; Another pained expression from Legolas ensues
2:12: This is the last time we have to see Arwen until the third movie, thank GOD.
2:33: Aragorn makes his grand re-appearance in Helm's Deep. YES.
2:40: Aragorn and Legolas have their first fight. Pained expressions all around.
2:43: Aragorn makes love to his armor. He likes it rough. Legolas apologizes. Smiles all around.
2:47: Soldiers are on the wall, tensions rise, the armies of Isengard approach, rain is falling, and Gimli, as always, provides some much needed comic relief.
2:52: The Wilhelm Scream makes its obligatory appearance
2:58: Legolas snowboards down some stairs. Badass, aye he be.
3:01: Theoden gets his hands dirty for 2 seconds and is already injured. How convenient for the king....
3:04: Oh my god I love this movie
3:09: "Last March of the Ents." I have goosebumps. It's ever such a powerful scene.
3:15: Gandalf returns.. Again. This time with ass-kicking horsemen. Sir Ian has a wicked Battle-Cry.
3:20: Frodo pulls Sting on Sam. We always knew it would happen. What with his mollycoddling. "Don't you know your Sam?" Oh, shut up, Sam. Now he's going to tell a story, wise beyond his years, set to montage.
3:33: Smeagol is losing his mind. Slowly. To himself. The sad and creepy music starts, one fleeting look at the impending doom, and... Credits. They will be Long, long long.
4:32 PM: The sun is setting, and nope, these credits are still not over.
3:54: Credits are done. OVER!

4:42 PM: Here it is, the final chapter... The end of all things, or whatever they say. Let it begin... I love this soundtrack
0:09: "The Return of the King"
0:10:Nothing could interest me less in this movie than Frodo and Sam's perilous journey to Mordor. Gimme the rest of the fellowship.
1:05: The Beacon lighting scene... I think it goes highly understated. It's powerful stuff. Anything that brings it back to Aragorn...
1:12: The Wilhelm scream makes its second appearance!
1:16: I maintain that I'm a lesser fan of this cut, but it does offer more scenes with Faramir, which apparently were unimportant for theaters. Which is probably true, given what little is them. However, I love the character Faramir, and David Wenham is perfect. So... 1 point for the Extended Edition.
1:44: The sad thing about Eowyn, despite how awesome she is, is that everybody always feels sorry for her. Aragorn shoots her down but says "I wished you joy from the moment I first saw you". That really means "I pitied you from the moment I first saw you." It's the same in the book, too. I suppose it doesn't help that she's always kinda whining about how smothered she is by her womanhood.
2:01: 5th disc is ended in the middle of the Battle of Pelennor Fields...
2:02: 6th and final disc has started. I've hit the final stretch.
2:05: It's so amazing that that Lembas bread fell all in the same place and perfectly in its wrappings
2:16: It's amazing how a giant spider can be so stealthy
2:28: "The Ride of the Rohirrim". I've never been so moved by this scene. I've got sweaty palms, goosebumps all over, and my jaw hanging open. Ah, Rohan. How fine and noble. Fuck, Eomer is cool.
2:42: Aragorn shows up with his posse aka ghost army. Holy crap. Aragorn is hot, yeah?
2:45: Wilhelm Scream #3
2:47: Theoden: Dead. He was good and valiant, but he had a baditude.
2:50: Ah, the house of healing. These few chapters in the book are my very favorite. I'm glad that they make an appearance in the movie.. I would've liked a bit more from it, though. I suppose I should be happy just to get what's there.
2:58: Sam and Frodo enter Mordor. Yay. I already want to watch this whole trilogy again.
3:00: "A Diversion". Yes! YES!
3:12: The Mouth of Sauron. A very cool creative addition. Creepy.
3:13: Legolas' 5th? Pained expression. He thinks Frodo is dead. Sad day.
3:25: Frodo is struggling... He doesn't know if she should part with the precious. At first he doesn't. He puts it on and has this weird look on his face, like he's just messing with Sam. Then he puts it on. Also, his lips look chapped.
3:27: Legolas' 6th. Aragorn is in great peril, and he cannot get to him.
3:28: Oh my god. Are you watching this? The Ring is finally destroyed!
3:34: Ending number one. The ring is destroyed, Frodo and Sam are napping on a rock. Gandalf uses his eagle friends to take them to a hotel.
3:36: I love this part where Frodo is in bed and being bombarded one by one by everybody, and he says their name, like it's a sitcom or something. But he doesn't say Legolas' name. Hmmm..
3:37: Second ending. Now the coronation scene. Behold its glorious splendor.
3:38: Aragorn is now king. I prefer him dirty, though. You know, all ragged and hair matted to his face, which is sweaty and grimy... His clothes torn. None of this clean as a whistle crap.
3:39: Here's Legolas, looking like an absolute princess. No more pained expressions from him.
3:40: And there's Arwen. Hot reunion. Even though she looks frumpy. And Elrond is crying tears of joy. Weird considering the entire trilogy he was so down on it all.
3:41: "My Friends. You bow to no one." Powerful stuff from a king. And oh, what a king. And that's the last we see of them. And it makes me sad. I wouldn't want to leave the fellowship. Would you?
3:43: Ah, back in the shire. It seems like ages ago I was watching them in the shire... Before the big journey. Well, it WAS 12 hours ago.
3:44: Sam gets married. Frodo will never be content again. Ouch. "How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand, there is no going back". Gosh that's just depressing. Poor Frodo. He was once so care-free...
3:48: Here we are.. It's almost over. Everybody's splitting up. I don't like it. Why can't things just stay the way they are?
3:55: "Well, I'm back," he said.
3:56: Credits
4:02: I can't believe I just sang along to that whole Annie Lennox song. I don't even like it.
4:18: The End
9:10 PM

I'm on such a LOTR buzz right now. I have to watch some DVD extras or something. I'm going to do this every year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Listmania: Edgar Wright's Top 29 films 2008

Edgar wright has posted his tentative list over at his myspace blog today. Let's see what he says...
Edgar’s Top 29 Films 2008
Yes, there's only 29 films as the year ain't over yet and I still intend to see the following.
THE WRESTLER - next Tuesday.
Still may see AUSTRALIA and CHE. And more.
But here's my pretty solid end of the year list.
Will update on December 31st!

10 - WALL-E
16 - REC
18 - JCVD
20 - RAMBO
26 - MILK
27 - W.

Review: WALL-E (2008)

I'm doing catch up right now, and to general shock and awe, I had not yet seen WALL-E. This review will be short and of low substance, because it pretty much is as good as they say; it is full of heart and visual splendor.

We must never underestimate the power of children's films. The first half is damn near flawless. I really believe it is one of the year's best, as it has rightly been referred to since its release. I wish I had seen it sooner.

Good 2001 refs.

Grade: A


Thursday, December 11, 2008

2009 Golden Globe Nominations

Award season soldiers on, as the 2009 Golden Globes nominations were announced. These awards don't mean a whole lot to me, but I was interested to see The Dark Knight getting one nomination, and Tropic Thunder get two. I haven't seen 3 of the best drama noms so it'll be hard for me to comment on that, but I'll say I'm surprised to see Doubt left out. Also, I'm quite pleased to see In Bruges make the comedy shortlist; I thought for sure people had forgotten about it by now.

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

Burn After Reading
In Bruges
Mamma Mia
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Full list HERE.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Listmania: Roger Ebert's best of 2008

Possibly the most respected and trusted movie critics alive has released his best-of list for 2008. They're not in order, which is a shame, but you can read his full blurbs HERE. (in bold are the ones I've seen.. Unfortunately there are a few on there that have yet to be released where I live)
The Band's Visit
Chop Shop
The Dark Knight
The Fall
Frozen River
Iron Man
Rachel Getting Married

The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Shotgun Stories
Slumdog Millionaire
Synecdoche, New York


Wow. W.? Really? And no Benjamin Button. Well, I suppose with stunning trailers and hype sky-high, there has to be a certain amount of backlash.

DVD: The Dark Knight Exclusives


Why aren't they advertised more ahead of time? I mean, I'm glad I didn't go ahead and pre-order this time around , but I have to say, I'm baffled by this trend.

For Your Consideration: Kirk Lazarus for Best Supporting Actor

This is both real and fake. Obviously Kirk Lazarus can't be nominated for an Oscar--he isn't real. Plus, hasn't he won FIVE already? Give someone else a shot.
No, this is Dreamworks' clever campaign to get Robert Downey Jr. an Oscar Nod for his role in Tropic Thunder. He's hands down the best part of that movie, and though he won't win (fingers crossed for Heath Ledger) but I think it would be awesome if two summer blockbusters got acting nominations--in the same category. You usually see them get nominated for Sound awards at best (See: The Bourne Ultimatum, which took home 3 of those last year). Says something about the movies this summer, which I think have been the gems of the entire year. Sad, but true.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Review: My Name is Bruce (2007)

If you don't have any idea who Bruce Campbell is, 1.) I'm very sorry and 2.) this movie really isn't for you.

It's constructed mostly of inside jokes and I suppose a few non-inside ones (which don't add anything spectacular) surrounding Bruce Campbell's life as a B-list cult icon.

Also directed by Campbell, it's a highly parodical look into his life. He's rude, chauvinistic, and in general, an asshole. But, you can't help but like him (it helps that he was present at the screening I attended). The film has a few major flaws, such as the script, which you can tell is lacking some depth. It's nearly 90 minutes, but it still felt a bit long. I thought the ending was cheap and contrived. Most of the jokes needed a little extra something, but all in all, it was enjoyable enough, and I love the Evil Dead trilogy, so that was a big factor.

I think I was the most excited whenever Ted Raimi was onscreen (I'm not sure why. Maybe because he rules). He's just a silly guy and actually a good actor. It's a shame he only scrapes by with cameos in his brother's films.

All in all, I'd say Bruce's self-deprecating portrait is decent, as he's surely no Sam Raimi. I think I'll go watch Evil Dead 2...

Grade: C

Friday, December 05, 2008

For Your Consideration: The Dark Knight

Warner Brothers has been working fervently to campaign for The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger for Oscar Nominations. This poster=probably the coolest thing ever.

Fun Stuff: The Lord of the Rings Drinking Game

This=Hilarious. I hope to try it out someday.

And one for all three films

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Video: Prop. 8: The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

This has basically been posted everywhere, but it is hilarious. And how on earth did they get all those people?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Trailers: Che (2008)


Review: The Fall (2008)

This title is listed as 2006 on its IMDB page, but it was officially released in the states in 2008. And it's still 2008! Yay.

I pity anyone who jumped on the Across the Universe wagon last year, citing it as "breathtaking", "bold", or my favorite; "visually stunning". It was none of those things. The Fall is ALL of those things and more.

It's luscious and vibrant. The colors aren't overly-saturated, but just enough so that you can't look away. Not to mention a gorgeous black and white opening credits sequence. It may be the most aesthetically pleasing film I've ever seen.

The story is there, too. A young man (Lee Pace) and a young girl (Catinca Untaru) bond over a fantastical other-worldly adventure. It reminds me somewhat of Alfonso Cuarón's A Little Princess, one of my favorite films when I was young. You're mesmerized until you're just staring blankly at the screen. Eventually the story turns very dark, and I suppose it was all along, and we see our main characters in a most vulnerable light; completely exposed.

Lee Pace is beautiful and amazing and one day I will marry him. For now, though, I will watch him go unrecognized in the now cancelled Pushing Daisies. Catinca Untaru is incredible for being so young. She's silly, endearing, honest, sympathetic, and genuine. Her emotions are very sincere. You love her from the moment you see her. Who couldn't?

Grade: A


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

2009 Spirit Award Nominations

Award Season is underway; the nominations for the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards were announced today. The Spirit Awards will take place on the eve of Oscar Night (February 22). It's televised on IFC... Which means.. I won't be watching it.

Best Feature
Producers: Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh
"Frozen River"
Producers: Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae
"Rachel Getting Married"
Producers: Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme, Marc Platt
"Wendy and Lucy"
Producers: Larry Fessenden, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani
"The Wrestler"
Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin

See the full list here.

My mom has this thing where she has to see every film nominated for a major category at the Oscars. I may have to go one up on her and try and see all the films nominated for Spirit Awards. They should be some good ones. Tally-ho.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Review: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

In Danny Boyle's latest film, he visits India to show us the hard-knock life of Jamal Malik, a "slumdog", who grew up to be a famous by winning "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". The only problem is, nobody believes he actually knew all the answers, so they interrogate him. What we get is an entertaining look through Jamal's life, complete with the little details as to how he knew the answer to the questions.

I think anyone can relate to that; whenever I know some random piece of information, someone will ask how I know that, and it's simple, this one time I was in this place and this thing happened and that's how I know. Jamal's story is a slightly more unique, though. He went through many hardships before he had even hit puberty. He spent time in tourist hot-spots conning people for money and stealing their shoes. He eventually got a job as an assistant, delivering coffee to people in one of those telemarketing agencies.

Then, he's on the show. But the only reason he is is not to make money, but to see if his long lost childhood soul mate is watching. I've been tricked into watching a love story.

Boyle's directing is decidedly un-tidy. There is a high-paced energy throughout the whole film--except when Jamal is on the hot seat, playing for millions. We see the history of Jamal and Salim (his brother with slightly higher ambitions) and Latika, their childhood companion from the slums; their "third musketeer". We see his heart breaking quest to find them both through his long journey, and he does it always with humility and a Bollywood ending.

I liked this movie a lot. I was always excited whenever Jamal would embark on another story telling. We see that he's not a genius, he's just a normal kid with slightly different life experiences from you or me. I thought his adventures were fun, and because the love story is actually the biggest factor in the whole movie, it'd be hard to tone it down. But I'd say that's what I didn't like so much about it.

The movie is generating a lot of buzz; just last night it won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film awards. It's on the short list for Best Picture at the Oscars. I guess it's supposed to be "this year's Juno or Little Miss Sunshine", but it fits more the underdog category than any of them do.

Grade: B