Friday, May 31, 2013

A Fistful of Reads: May Edition


Another month is through.  We're almost halfway through the year, and I'm five more books down.  My goal was 30 books this year and I've currently read through 19 books!  You can catch the previous entries in this series here.  This was a mixed bag month.  I read through some great books and some pretty awful ones, which is a shame.  I don't like reading bad books, and yet again it breaks up the constant stream of praise for once.  

It is kind of fun to tear something apart; right?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's a wrap! (my May Best Picture Predictions!)


Write this down: My May Screenplay Predictions

Peace out, bitches!
Screenplays.  This is looking like a stacked year in either category, and straight out of Cannes we got some new contenders and some questionmarks.  I think category placement for both ‘Foxcatcher’ and ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ is being debated loudly right now.  Neither has any source material noted on IMDB and yet both are allegedly adapted screenplays.  For now, I’m treating ‘Foxcatcher’ as adapted, since Wikipedia says it is adapted from memoirs, and I’m keeping ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ in original.  This could all change, but for now I’m thinking it makes sense.

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: Hud

James Wong Howe must have been in love with Paul Newman.  I say this in a completely joking manner, but what I mean is that the film he served as DP on (‘Hud’) is such a beautifully focused film on the actor that one can’t help but keep their eyes glued to his every movement.  ‘Hud’ has always been one of my favorites.  Resting nicely in my top fifteen films of all time, ‘Hud’ carries with it a complete package.  It is staggering in its insightful character development, daring to make its protagonist a bear of a man and refusing to lace him with any redemptive qualities.  Instead, the film brilliantly strips him of all worthy traits and leaves us, upon the closing, with a man worthy of nothing but loathing.  While the focal point is always Hud, the film captures the effect the man and his actions have on the ones around him, the ones who are trying desperately to hold onto him.  Lonnie idolizes him and Alma cares and almost loves him and yet his decent into unbridled malice leave them with empty hands and hearts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five things I realized while watching ‘A Farewell to Arms’…

Debut films and foreign auteurs (My May Director Oscar Predictions)

"Thank you God for snubbing Ben Affleck."
2012 was a weird year in this category.  I think we all know that.  I mean, the Oscar for Director was so up in the air because the year long lock was snubbed the nomination.  Ben Affleck won EVERY OTHER TELEVISED AWARD in this category, including the BAFTA, and then went on to have his film win the SAG.  His film even won the Oscar for Best Picture.  But, alas, he was snubbed the nomination in favor of Michael Haneke and Behn Zeitlin.  Now, I'm not saying that is a bad thing (since Zeitlin was leagues better than Affleck...and Lee for that matter) but it is odd and makes you wonder about what could happen this year.  Could Zeitlin's shock nomination (I knew it was going to happen but foolishly dropped him from my predictions) give confidence to other debut directors, like Coogler?  Could Haneke's surprise nomination mean that this years big Cannes story could result in a nomination for Kechiche?

Here's what I'm thinking now:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can I get a trailer for this already?


Finally, we have some word on 'Under the Skin'!  I've been anxiously awaiting this film since early last year (I had Scarlett in my April predictions for Lead Actress) and with the push back to this year and the lack of any new stills or trailer or even clips floating around, I've been sadly growing more and more fearful that this was either never going to get released or was going to officially suck.  Finally we have some reactions from test footage and Empire has given us the link!

I'll quote it here:  

"A sci-fi tale by the director of Sexy Beast, starring Scarlett Johansson? This was always going to be interesting. This tease of Jonathan Glazer’s story about an alien in human form was crammed with interesting, eerie, unsettling images (naked alien men-babies cavorting underwater and through a field, anyone?), while Johansson – eyes wide and dark as lochs – seems to be a perfect fit for the director’s sensibilities. We can't wait to see what this thing is like. It’s described by Film4 as “part road movie, part science fiction, part real”. That may be as close as anyone can come to nailing it."

This makes me very happy!

A technical bombardment (my May Tech Predictions)



In a scramble to actually get the rest of these predictions done, I’m just lumping the techs together.  I know, this is not what I wanted to do, but there is just too much to do this month still, and I’ve only got three days to do it!  This three day weekend didn’t help much, and I’m tied up most of the day Thursday and Friday and won’t really have time to work on these. 

And I still have to revise Director and Best Picture!!!

So, with Cannes out of the way and more light emerging on many of the categories, I’ve decided to simply list my current predictions for the techs.  We can discuss this later.  Next month.  Next revise.  Dear god, this year is really upon us!

Let's Review Something: Epic


Conceptually, ‘Epic’ isn’t anything new.  In fact, it’s been compared to ‘Fern Gully’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and I’d even add ‘Avatar’ to the list (the flying on birds aspect seemed very ‘familiar’).  It has a visual impact from a mere surface viewpoint, but digging deeper presents us with a film that is less ‘epic’ than I expected.

I personally find it baffling that they would use such a title to describe this film.  The word epic carries such a connotation, such a weight with it.  People use it to describe something larger than life, something on a grand and opus scale.  When you use that word to describe your film (in something as direct as the title) you lead the audience to expect something more than most films can live up to.  It was an ill-advised move, and then again I’m struggling to come up with an alternate name that would have influenced ticket buyers.

‘Save the Pod!’

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cannes Winners!

Palme d’Or: Blue Is the Warmest Color Abdellatif Kechiche
Grand Prix: Inside Llewyn Davies by Joel and Ethan Coen
Jury Prize: Like Father, Like Son by Kore-eda Hirokazu
Best Director: Amat Escalante for Heli
Best Actress: Bérénice Bejo for Asghar Farhadi’s The Past / Le Passé
Best Actor: Bruce Dern for Alexander Payne’s Nebraska
Best Screenplay: Jia Zhangke for A Touch of Sin
Camera d’or: Ilo Ilo by Anthony Cheng
Palme d’Or for Best Short Film: Safe by Moon Byoung-gon
Special Mention for Short Film: Whale Valley / Hvalfjordur by Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson

My kind of deliberation...

Who's gonna win?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Trailer Break: Ain't Them Bodies Saints


This looks fucking incredible.
I...
I have no words.
I...
I need this now!

Jane got a distributor...

Why can't I stop talking about this movie?

Pushing the door open, once again...
All the turmoil surrounding 'Jane Got a Gun' has been a lot of fun to report on because, well, it's like a trainwreck of epic proportions   Yup, the revolving door of actors walking in and out of this project has been hilarious to watch.  Portman and Edgerton have stayed put, standing by their film, but so many have come and gone that it's become exhausting to say the least.  I honestly wonder if McGregor will stay aboard, and I hope he does because he adds an element to the film I'm excited about.

Seriously, for a film I could have cared less about six months ago, this has become like my most anticipated film in forever just so I can watch it either triumphantly rise above the naysayers or dissolve into the biggest hot mess in the history of film.

Please be one or the other and not some horrid stroll down the middle road.

With all the bad news circulating this picture, it's rather neat to see that Harvey Weinstein has taken to backing the project.  It's not final yet, but it appears he's in final negotiations to handle the US distribution of the film, which could be a big deal for the film.  Maybe he's merely capitalizing on the fact that all this bad publicity is still publicity and the film is bound to make money off of people like me who are going to but tickets to watch it fail, or maybe the script really was as good as early word suggested.

I'm feeling Blue...

I need this movie in my life right now...
I'm feeling blue because I can't see this movie right now.  The word right out of Cannes is that it is an undeniable masterpiece, currently turning every head at the festival as it defies all notion and proves that graphic lesbian sex does not have to be a tacky B-grade embarrassment.  Nope, this film by French director Abdellatif Kechiche has everyone talking, and not solely about the explicit nature of the sex scenes (although people are talking about those as well).  This review published in The Telegraph pretty much says it all.  This movie is so much more than that!  

But, I mean...check this out!

Weinstein's a pimp (May Best Actress Predictions)

Golden Globes don't count, Jessica!

By placing Roberts in Supporting, I really needed to hurry and redo these predictions since I initially placed her here last month.  This category looks like it has about eight real contenders right now, but for the sake of these predictions I’m going with fifteen potentials.  Mainly, I’m struggling to try and find some new blood, since this year looks to have a slew of previous winners and nominees in the forefront with roles that are tailor made for Oscar attention.  With Weinstein backing most of them (Streep, Dench, Kidman, Cotillard) this could be a bloodbath of Oscar winning women fighting it out for Oscar number two (or in Streep’s case, #4). 

I’m still very confident in Dench being the year end champ, and with the recent news that Weinstein is backing her, I don’t think anyone should find that shocking.  Still, there has to be a race, and four other nominees, so here we go.

Lovely ladies: A look at Supporting Actress (May Predictions)


Five times a charm?
It’s about time to take another look at this category.  Cannes is abuzz with ink for a few, and there just seem to be so many contenders in this category right now.  It’s so much fun to speculate on these so far out, but now is when it gets to be a lot of fun because there is actual ink on the films and the performances, not just pure synopsis speculation.  Sure, some films are still enigmas, but for the most part we can start piecing together who deserves to be considered, let alone predicted.

Let’s have at it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Let's Review Something: Star Trek Into Darkness



I’ve never considered myself a Trekkie.  In fact, I make fun of those people.  That doesn’t erase the fact that I wore Vulcan ears to school for Kindergarten show-and-tell, referred to myself as Spock for at least a year or two and told everyone to “live long and prosper”.  You see, I’m one of those old school ‘Star Trek’ fans.  I haven’t seen any of the spin off shows outside of ‘The Next Generation’ and I don’t know any of the names of the countless characters that float in and out of the ‘Star Trek’ universe.  I know the original characters, the ones that started it all, and I have seen all of their movies (not all of their shows).  I may not have seen them since my childhood, but the memories are all there.  So, while I don’t consider myself a Trekkie and while I shamelessly laugh at those who can speak Klingon and who can name all of the alien races and actually hold full conversations of which alien race they’d like to part of (yes, I know some people like this), I hold a very special place in my heart for Captain Kirk and Spock and the rest of the crew of the Starship Enterprise because they were such a special part of my childhood.

Back in 2009, J.J. Abrams unleashed a whole new look at these characters with his Blockbuster rebirth of the popular franchise.  I was wholly excited to see these characters brought back to life on the big screen for a new generation.  In a way, it felt like coming home.  Finally I could feel alright about letting this particular universe back into my life. 

It felt acceptable. 

For me, ‘Star Trek’ was one of the highlights of 2009.  With a rich cast (that ensemble is phenomenal) and a beautifully fleshed out storyline that took the important facets of an ‘origin story’ and allowed to be embellished with a backstory and history that felt fresh, exciting and new, ‘Star Trek’ exceeded my expectations.  Yes, it betrays in a way the very fundamental core of what the ‘Star Trek’ universe was based on, tonally at least, but it made it more human and thus more accessible to today’s culture and society. 

It made ‘Star Trek’ cool again.

Poster Break: Man of Steel

I need this in my life!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Trailer Break: Don Jon

I'm getting so pumped right now!!!

Something just shot to the top of my most anticipated list!


This looks HILARIOUS!  Scarlett Johansson looks wonderful.  The accents are spot on hilarity, the pacing looks dynamic, the word out of Sundance is sensational, the cast looks delightful.  Jesus, everything about this screams "LOVE ME" and I already do.  Please be as amazing as I think you're going to be.  

Just me against the elements: My May Lead Actor Predictions...

Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't have a film out this year, right?

With new ink surfacing straight out of Cannes regarding a certain Lead Actor contender we didn’t see coming, I’ve decided to rework my lineup.  Personally, Lead Actor seems to be the category that feels ‘solid’ every year at this time.  That can mean one of two things; either we’re in for a really boring year or we’re in for some real shocks come Awards Season.  I remember 2011 being confident in Craig/DiCaprio/Fassbender/Gosling/Oldman and nearly every prognosticator on the internet had DiCaprio/Fassbender/Gosling/Oldman in their predictions all year long and yet we only got a ‘surprise’ nomination for Oldman in the end.  Last year early predictions were all about Day-Lewis/Hawkes/Jackman/Murray/Phoenix and, in retrospect, this was really smart.  In fact, Murray fell away mid-year to be replaced by Washington and it all made sense.  Cooper came out of nowhere and Hawkes was snubbed, but he was close.

So, this year it almost seems like the same names keep being mentioned.  The four names that keep getting predicted are Carell/DiCaprio/Jordon/McConaughey with Dern and Bale filtered in and out of the lineup.  Could this be another 2011, where only one of these contenders actually gets nominated, or are we looking at another 2012 where pretty much this entire lineup gets recognized?

So, here are my current thoughts.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Calling Lindsay Lohan...



LOL, gotta love technology.  This news (that visual effects will be used to put the film's stars heads on porn stars bodies) has me so excited, and not entirely in a good way.  This film is either going to be a hot mess or the greatest thing in the whole world.  I don't know if there is a middle ground.  Go Lars, but seriously, this better be fucking amazing!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Damn those tweets (May Supporting Actor Predictions)

Who'll lose the Oscar this year?

My mind is ever changing on these Oscar categories, and yet enough talk is circulating at the moment for me to shake up my initial predictions, at least here (we’re always changing our minds in this prognosticating game).  Last month I predicted Damon, Farrell, Fassbender, Renner and Tatum.  I actually think all five have strong chances at a nomination, and will at least pop up in precursors and critics’ awards, at least as far as I can foresee now.  Still, with Cannes underway and tweets regarding performances from Roth, Brolin, Leto and Harrelson gaining momentum, it seemed ripe for a shaking up of sorts.

Besides, this kind of stuff is always fun.

Trailer Break: Blood Ties


Color me VERY excited!  Early ink straight out of Cannes is that this is exceptional, and Zoe Saldana (yay) is getting some buzz as best of the female supporting cast.  Some have compared this to 'Goodfellas', and while hyperbole is always an issue with films right out of the gate, this looks remarkable!  I'm not sure what kind of Oscar pull this will get, but if Saldana can get traction I'll be ecstatic!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Poster Break: Diana

Further reason that I cannot predict this for Oscars.

EDIT:  Well, apparently this is fan made.  Whoops.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Let's review something: The Great Gatsby



‘The Great Gatsby’ was one of those films I really, truly wanted to love.  While not on the same level of anticipation as last years ‘Les Miserables’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ was extremely high on my list of films with the most potential to wow me this year.  I’m a huge fan of the novel.  Fitzgerald’s most recognized work is an outstanding piece of literature, and having read it last year for the first time, it was one of those rare instances where all the hype surrounding a book represented it well.  I was blown away.  Having seen the 1974 film version years ago, I had this lingering air of disappointment resting in the back of my mind.  Coppola’s Redford/Farrow helmed film was a boring mess and never really captured the magnificence or even poignancy of Fitzgerald’s prose, which is shocking to be honest (you’d think that director and that cast would be aces).

Baz Luhrmann is never boring.

When news broke initially that Baz was going to be adapting this novel, I was nervous.  I love Luhrmann’s style more than most and so I had no qualms with that aspect, but the fact that at the time all I had going on was the 1974 version (which bored me to tears) and the casting (Maguire, really?) has me thinking this was a bad idea.  Then I read the novel and became more intrigued by the prospect of Luhrmann doing for Gatsby what he did for Romeo. 

I was hooked.

Scarlett's summer plans...



I love it when I can report on news that makes me happy!  As you are aware, I’m a huge supporter of the very talented yet largely underappreciated Scarlett Johansson.  I find her alluring and multi-faceted despite the media and her questionable film roles emphasizing her physique instead of her talent.  I’ve reported on her more recent film choices with anticipation (her work forthcoming with Glazer, Gordon-Levitt and Besson all sound exciting and potentially career resurrecting) and now I get to talk about  another decision of hers that I think will have a huge impact on her career resurgence; her directorial debut

It isn’t exactly rare for actors to take their seat behind the camera.  Ben Affleck is a very notable and obvious example of this, but we also have the likes of Angelina Jolie, Helen Hunt, Ben Stiller, Mel Gibson and even Sophia Coppola (if you could call her work in ‘The Godfather III’ acting) who have all done this.  Actors actually can make great directors because they work so closely with directors, and actors can make exceptional ‘actor’s directors’ in that they can manage to pull out some amazing performances. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

'Angel'ina



Could this woman be any more perfect?  Seriously, she’s gone from borderline gothic sexpot to Mother Teresa in the course of a decade and, in all honesty, she has earned the respect of millions.  Forget the tabloid fodder that her relationship with Brad Pitt was turned into (at least in the beginning), this woman is a dedicated mother and civil servant, ambassador and talented beauty who has captured the eyes and hearts of the entire world.  Now, Angelina has come out with something very private and inspiring.  You can read her whole write up here.  By coming forward about her decision to have a double mastectomy, Jolie has shed light on a subject that many women are afraid to discuss and has hopefully made the subject more accessible, less taboo and ultimately more preventable.  Sure, she is only one woman, but it takes one person to make a big difference.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A few thoughts on the 2013 Makeup category (May Predictions)



So last year I tried to update my predictions as a whole each time (or at least in categorical groups) but that was so time consuming and really gave me a major headache.  So, what I thought I’d do is take these categories at my leisure.  When I feel like a particular category needs an update, I’ll do just that.  You can always reference my latest predictions on the sidebar, and each category will be linked to the latest post regarding my personal predictions.

So, today I wanted to talk a little bit about the Makeup and Hairstyling category.  This category can often be hard to predict.  They tend to like prosthetics, and films that are heavy in that area (look at recent wins for The Iron Lady and Les Miserables) fare particularly well here.  That being said, sometimes they snub the one film that seems unmissable (look at that Lincoln snub) and they do like to shake things up with sci-fi and fantasy mentions (Star Trek and Pans Labyrinth both won Oscars here).  With a list so rich of potentials, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what will be nominated, embraced, heavily predicted and ultimately snubbed.

But let’s try and work this out.

Monday morning movie reviews...

The view from our rental...
A week is a long time to be away from my blog.  I find myself thinking about it while I’m sitting on the beach and sipping a cold beer and wondering what is going on in cyber world.  Am I obsessed?  I should have been enjoying the sand castles and whatnot but instead I was itching to get on the internet and post something or read something or comment on something.  Thanks to an unlucky boat ride, my phone was soaked in salt water and I’ve been completely dislodged from civilization since Tuesday. 

God, how do people do that?

So, while I was away I did happen to catch a few films while the tykes were asleep (and a few while they were awake) and so what the hell, here’s a few thoughts on those films:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fisti Awards Update...

Well, they are finished!  I've finally compiled my 1992 Fisti Awards, and you can see them in their entirety on the 90's Fisti Page.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  Bring on 1993!  I'm also wrapping up 2012 and am working on 1957, for kicks.  A lot of movies to see, so little time to see them.

Oh, and I'm leaving today for vacation, so catch you in a week ;-)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cry me a river...

So, the year that was 2012 is behind us, and while I'm not quite ready to announce the Fisti Awards for the year (I have yet to see 'Silver Linings Playbook', 'Amour' and 'Django Unchained') I've been pondering the films that I did see this year and thinking back over the amount of emotional connection I had with them.  Some moments were quite shocking for me, and while I don't grade a film's overall merit by the amount of tears I shed while viewing the film (if that were the case then 'The Impossible' would be my number one) I do value a good emotional connection, and when a film can bring me to tears then it gets an automatic embrace from me.  What can I say; I like to cry.

So, inspired by the two hours I spent on the couch sobbing like a menopausal woman last weekend while watching 'The Impossible , I've dedicated this post to the five scenes that got me the most this year; that evoked the most uncontrollable tears.  Yes, no matter how many times I see these films, these five scenes STILL break me down.

I'll give a special shout out to the devastating 'Declaration of War', which probably should have received a mention here and yet I couldn't pin down a singular scene that moved me the most since the nature of the film is to continually effect my emotions and so I could just say "the whole movie" but I didn't want to do that.

How do you pick just one?
But alas, on with the list!

Laugh my fucking ass off!

Tootles, bitches!
Poor, poor Brian Duffield.  He writes this script that is apparently amazing (despite sounding ridiculously cliche and dull) and gets this edgy director and all star cast only to have everyone originally attached bail except for the least interesting aspect of the film, Natalie Portman, and be replaced by a slew of mediocre replacements like Gavin O'Connor, Noah Emmerich and Bradley Cooper, but hell, at least the project is moving forward.  But now, amid all this nonsense, Cooper has flown the coop!  Blaming those pesky Boston bombers, Cooper claims his previous obligations with David O. Russell's 'American Hustle' is causing him to bow out of 'Jane Got a Gun'.  I'm not sure I buy this entirely, but whatever.  I'll take his word for it, I guess.  This is becoming a serious joke now.  Fassbender, Law and Cooper have all bowed out of key roles here.  I wish Edgerton would take his leave now so that I can abandon all interest in seeing this, outside of the obvious 'car wreck' curiosity.  

Poster Break: Nymphomaniac



I know, a parenthesis vagina isn't the most inspired thing or nearly as clever as they want it to be, but I kind of love this thing given the obvious context of the film.  What do you think?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fisti Awards Update

Just a quick update, over on the 90's Fisti Awards page you can see my ballots for 1992's Adapted and Original Screenplay as well as all four acting categories!  Check them out and tell me what you think.

A Fistful of Reads: April Edition


Another month is over and I'm adding three more books to my list of accomplishments this year.  If you're keeping a tally that means that I've officially read 14 books in four months.  That's pretty cool by me!  This month was a pretty great one.  I happen to absolutely LOVE all three novels I devoured, to varying degrees obviously, and they were all so different (despite two being slightly comparable in location).  What's even better is that I can make some film connections with all three of these reads, so let's get this party started!