Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Let’s be frank…

Creating art is hard.  I guess I should rephrase that.  Creating art that you’re proud of is hard.  It’s really hard.  I’ve been there before, when you feel like you’re in a cesspool of inspiration, wading through these ideas that all feel false and feel desperate and feel unfortunate and the next thing you know you’re staring at yourself in the mirror wondering why your life has to be so devoid of true meaningful inspiration.  Then, by chance, you see the art created by someone else and you’re just insanely jealous of their obvious raw, natural talent.

But what if they held out their hand, invited you to join their journey and, in the process, you realized that inspiration is all around you and that you, like them, are capable of anything.

‘Frank’ unfolds kind of like that.

Silence is golden...

Earlier this year, I saw one of the most magical teaser trailers I’d ever seen in all my years of movie watching.  It was for the most recent contribution to Claymation cinema, ‘The Boxtrolls’.  I knew instantly that I wanted to see this movie.  The trailer carried this spark of magic, intrigue and most surprisingly, grace, and I just had to have it in my life.  I don’t know if I’ve watched a single trailer more than that one.  Nothing but music and images of splendor.  Then the official trailer was released, the one with the plot explained and the characters talking, and I thought to myself, “Why can’t the movie be silent images set to music?” 

It seemed so much more interesting that way.

When sitting down to watch this film the other night, I was instantly transported to that teaser trailer (after the abruptly jarring opening sequence) when the film takes on a beautifully composed montage of young Eggs (the boy) growing up with the Boxtrolls, in particular one named Fish, who was his father figure.  The scene isn’t very long, a few minutes, but it is entirely set to music (David Marianelli’s score is triumphant) and has so much life and character that I felt myself drawn in deeper to this world.

Then the talking started again.

A Fisti Recast-athon!

The idea for this Recastathon came when I was compiling a list of the ten actresses working today that I felt were the most interesting and I noticed that there were no women of color in contention.  You guys came out in rapturous support of overlooked talent and it got me thinking…how many of these incredible roles could have gone to minority actresses, and why weren’t they?  It’s a shame that actresses of color are so often relegated to roles that are race specific.  There are bounties of roles that are not race specific that could be played beautifully by an actress of color, and yet they are usually passed over for a white actress who is rising to fame (or who has already established that said fame). 

So I put out the call to my fellow bloggers to recast some of those Oscar nominated roles that could have been tackled by an actress of color. 

The rules were simple:

1)  Pick an OSCAR NOMINATED performance given by a white actress that didn't require a white actress (no biopics here, even though Todd Haynes taught us that you don't need to be the same race or gender to play a real life person).  This performance can come from ANY film year.

2)  Pick an actress of color who could have been a great fit for the role instead of the one cast.  Keep in mind the time of release and chose actresses who were working at that time.  So, in other words, don't select the role of Calla Mackie in 1968's Rachel, Rachel (played by Estelle Parsons) and suggest it be a great fit for Naomie Harris, because, well, she wasn't born for another eight years.

3)  Explain WHY that actress would have made a great fit.  Plead her case.  Let's tell those Hollywood casting directors what they're missing.

That’s it, and you did!  I want to thank everyone that participated in this with me.  It makes my heart swell with happiness to see my fellow bloggers coming to support my blog, and all of your entries were truly incredible, thought provoking and really showed the bounty of wealth to be found in these untapped resources. 

But, before we get to into all of the additional awesome entries, I’ll elaborate on my selections.  I decided to go with Oscar winning roles that could have been played by minorities, and my initial intention was to select one from every decade, but that became difficult so I narrowed it down to six; one from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 90’s, 00’s and 10’s.  Let’s look at their chronologically.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Katharine Hepburn (Part 1)

Twice a Best Actor was a dream of mine that five additional bloggers helped come true.  Thanks to the support of the rest of my blogging family, and their interest in what we had put together, Twice a Best Actress was born!  For those new to the blog or unfamiliar with the last roundtable, this is how this works.  There are six bloggers (myself included) who will review the TWO Lead Oscar winning performances of an actress each week (to be posted here each Friday).  We will assign them all grades that will then get tallied and, after the project is over, we'll have a ranked list of the performances and then a ranked list of the most deserving double winner.  With this batch of ladies, we hit a snag with Katharine Hepburn, since she won FOUR times in this category, so we've decided to split her in two and grade we first two wins and her second two wins separately; and we're using her as bookmarks for the project, so she's first!

I want to introduce you to our panel, before we begin.  We have three returning bloggers (myself included) and three newbies.

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Sati from Cinematic Corner 

As you'll see from the reviews below, we have a diverse and opinionated panel, which is going to make for some great discussion

So, let's get it on!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Transcending my patience…

Alright; we were all warned…explicitly.  The reviews were not kind, at all.  The people we all know who are supposed to love this kind of stuff walked away baffled that anyone would like it, and in that we had our answer; right?  If the target audience couldn’t even appreciate this, then why would anyone else?  In fact, of everyone that I’ve talked to that has seen this; I’ve only come across two people who had anything nice to say about it.

And yet, I still decided that I needed to see it for myself.

It’s so weird to me, because I feel like the best point of comparison for a film like this (film/expectations) would be ‘Drive’, and yet, that was a good movie.  ‘Transcendence’ tries to be this thinking man’s action film, and yet it winds up being this sluggish bore of a film that never reaches the potential it had and never really identifies itself past some skeletal framing of ideas.  These huge themes of love, science, god and faith feel rusted in writer Jack Paglen’s script, and almost dead inside Wally Pfister’s direction.  It doesn’t help that none of the relationships feel remotely believable.  This apparent love between Will Caster and Evelyn Caster, his wife, feels stale and never truly developed, so when she starts sacrificing her own sanity to be alongside him it makes no sense.

I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We're Home!

We'll, we're home.  Disney was amazing...magical!  But, enough about that (or, should there be more about that), this blog is in desperate need of resuscitation.  I need to recuperate from the trip and get my thoughts in order, but activity is coming soon.  Be patient my friends and fellow bloggers...it's going to be a fun time here!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Closer Look: 1971 Best Picture

"Why are those films winning our Fistis?"

What a great year for film.  I’m wrapping up my personal awards for the year, and while I’ll have no time to actually get them posted before I leave for vacation, I wanted to leave you with some thoughts on the year that was and Oscar’s Best Picture lineup (as well as my Fisti lineup).  As I said, this was an astonishing year for film all around, and Oscar’s lineup is refreshingly reflective of that richness.  I don’t love all five films nominated by Oscar, but I appreciate that they are really diverse, cover a wide range of genres and showcase how incredible the year was, overall.

So let’s take the list one by one; and I’ll go ahead and rank them:

5 for the Fifth: my belated answers to Ruth's questions!

So, I’m late with this, but I do love me some Flixchatter, and I especially love Ruth’s 5 for the Fifth series, and whenever I can I try and participate with my own post to answer her five questions.  In all the chaos at my house, trying to prepare for our Disney trip and trying to wrap up some posts I had planned for the blog here, I completely forgot to jump on this back ON THE FIFTH, which is when I like to play along, but better late than never, right?

So, if you haven’t read through Ruth’s post, do that here first.  If you’re new to Flixchatter, add it to your blog roll NOW, since her blog is incredible (one of my personal favorites), and you’ll not want to miss another episode of 5 for the Fifth.

And now, to answer your questions Ruth, here we go!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blind Spot Series 2014: Monsieur Verdoux

Well, I'm really early with this one, but due to vacation cutting into the entire center of my month, if I don't post this now I will miss the deadline.  I actually watched this on the 1st and have been dragging out posting this as long as I can, but it's now or never (or late) and so I'm choosing now.  For those unfamiliar, this is part of the Blind Spot series that The Matinee is hosting this year, and so far this has been a really rewarding year for Blind Spot movies here at A Fistful of Films!  I decided to delve into the 40's for my personal selections, and I couldn't be more happy with that decision.  

You can click here to see all Blind Spot entries.

So, this month I saw a film from one of my favorite actor/directors, Charlie Chaplin.  I have mixed feelings on this, but we might as well just dig right on in.

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Mean They Don't Have Oscars, Part 2: The Women

So, yesterday I posted my list of Top Ten Twenty Actors You Won’t Believe Don’t Have Oscars, and I wanted to follow that up with the actresses.  I guess it’s less a follow up, but more the closing act.  It all started with an actress.  I was sitting in my bed, watching an incredible movie starring an incredible actress and then it dawned on me…she DOESN’T have an Oscar…at all…for anything!  From that small grain of a thought, this was born.  I stayed up half the night compiling my lists and it kept growing and growing and I wound up typing out a collective list of 65 names…which I then condensed to 40 (twenty men/twenty women).

If you haven’t checked out the male list yet, here it is.

So, like yesterday, I’m not going to rank those that landed in the 11-20 spots, but merely present them in a group form.  Then we’ll get into the Top Ten.

Again, like with the Actor’s List, I’ve only listed actresses who have been nominated for an Oscar, so some of the greats have been left off.  Like, take Marilyn Monroe.  I’m actually dumbfounded that in the height of her fame she didn’t receive an Oscar, but she was never nominated and so she is not on this list.  The Top Ten itself is mostly composed of classic actresses, because I really wanted to think about the ones who have attained a reputation that would suggest they are Oscar winning actresses.  I want you to read these names and think to yourself, ‘wait…they DON’T have Oscars?’…

But of course, there are many who haven’t won that we are all very much aware of the snubs, because we are reminded of them all the time…and some of those make up the Top Twenty.

Here we go:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

So, I saw Jennifer Lawrence's boobs last week...

The irony in this gif right now was too much to pass up...

Ok, so it's been almost a week since I was alerted via Twitter than Jennifer Lawrence's phone was hacked her her naked everything was all over the internet.  I'm not going to lie, I looked.  In fact, I was at my best friend's house when I got the infamous tweet and so he pulled out his laptop and we sat on his bed and looked at them together.

I'm ashamed of what happened next...

I wasn't really going to talk about this, since it's been talked about so much over the past week, but Sati told me I needed to give her my opinion on the matter before I left for vacation next week, and since she just dropped this hilarious take-down on the subject, I figured I'd throw some words on a page.

I'm slightly on the fence about the whole thing.  I know that so many actors are tweeting in support of the victims here, stating that looking is gross and awful and pervy and while it may be all of those things, it isn't really the worst thing in the world.  I mean...you did take those pictures, and while they do have a point in the issue of privacy, I do find this whole concept of taking naked pictures on your phone to be, well, ridiculous.  You're famous, and when you're famous you KNOW that people are going to do these things.  This isn't the first time that this has happened, and it won't be the last.  That being said, I usually make it a habit NOT to look at this kind of stuff.  I mean, we live in a world where we can pretty much see whatever we want, whenever we want, for free.  All you need to do is turn off safe search on Google or Bing or whatever search engine you use and then type it in.  The amount of actresses who have done nude scenes in films of on television or done a sex tape or whatever is more than enough to make looking at things like this kind of, unnecessary.  

I mean, I didn't even look at the leaked ScarJo nudes, and I've been in love with her for YEARS.  I saw the list released.  I know who was hacked.  I didn't look up anyone else and I have no plans or desire to.

But yes, I looked at Lawrence.  

I blame my bestie (I can, he won't read this), but afterward I felt a little dirty, and while I do feel that these actresses dumb enough to take pictures of themselves in such compromising and questionable positions do share some blame for making this stuff available to the average hacker with too much spare time, private is private and they should be afforded that.

So that makes me question, why was seeing Jennifer Lawrence so important to men (and some women) all over the world?  With the amount of porn stars who are just as good looking (many even better looking) at our fingertips, why did we all jump at the chance to see the forbidden fruits of an actress like Lawrence, even when we knew that it was a horrible violation of her privacy?  I guess maybe that is the point.  We live in a world where these porn stars are available to us.  They aren't forbidden anymore.  They are waiting for us, pleading with us, to look.  We, as a people, want everything we can't have because that makes it more exciting, and despite the fact that Jennifer Lawrence may look more like your grade school kid's babysitter than an actual sex-kitten, she's not attainable.  She's an actress, a mighty, actress who is above us; far away from our leagues.  We cannot have her.

Well, we couldn't have her.

I almost don't know what I'm saying anymore.  Maybe I should just delete this post.  I guess in closing the real thing that Jennifer Lawrence's boobs taught me was that we as people are kind of pathetic.  We aren't criminals, we didn't rape anyone (please, with those dumb comparisons), but we also didn't need to look but yet we all needed to look, and that need to look (call it questionable curiosity) makes me just roll my eyes at this thing we call humanity.

But I looked, so who am I to judge?

You Mean They Don't Have Oscars, Part I: The Men

So, the other night I was watching this movie with this certain actress who DOESN’T have an Oscar and the thought came to my mind that maybe, just maybe, she did and I was confused.  I mean, she HAD to have an Oscar to her name.  She’s one of those actresses, you know, the ones that everyone knows by name and generally respects as one of the all-time greats; one of the best that ever worked in the industry.  How does she not have an Oscar?

She doesn’t.

So this got me thinking of those actors and actresses who, on name alone, sound like Oscar winners.  I wanted to compile a list of names that we’d all be rather shocked to realize don’t have that golden statue.  Sure, there are some names that are famously associated with a lack of an Oscar, the same names that get brought up as DUE for an Oscar every time they make a movie, but there are some more classic actors and actresses who the average moviegoer probably assumes has an Oscar.

They would be wrong.

So, this is a two part series.  I’m going to talk about the actors today, and then we’ll get into the actresses tomorrow.

I want to clarify before we get into this list that this is concerning ACTING wins, not any other Oscar win.  Some of these actors have won Oscars in other categories (writing/score/directing/honorary) but they never snagged a win for their acting talents.  I also only considered names that actually had Oscar nominations attached to them, so while I find it baffling that someone like Peter Sarsgaard, despite his string of remarkable turns in the mid-aughts, doesn’t have an Oscar, he isn’t on this list because he still hasn’t been nominated for anything yet.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

1997 Fistis!

Nominate me like one of your French girls...

I did it!  I finished up the Fistis for 1997 before leaving for vacation.  Hell, I even had time to spare.  Bounce on over and check them out and let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear all your thoughts.  A pretty neat little fact about the Fistis and this particular year; it is only the second published year (39, 56, 57, 67, 74, 81, 87, 88, 90-97, the aughts, 2010-13) where Oscar's actual Best Picture winner wound up in my personal Top Five.  Yup, I shamelessly love me some Titanic and I still consider it an astonishing film, despite the fact that it really isn't a very good movie.

The other year where Oscar's BP is in my lineup is 1974, duh.

So dig in and comment, comment, comment!

2014 Watch List: Final Third

Well, the second third of the year is over and it is time to post my anticipation list for the final four months of the year.  This was considerably harder, since this is the time of the year when all of the studios are releasing their Oscar hopefuls, and so narrowing this list down to 13 was really hard...and then again, maybe not so hard.  There are a few names left off, but overall I feel like these 13 are the ones that I'm most excited to see and pretty much cover most of the bases.  I'm anticipating all of these films for various reasons.  Some of my anticipation has cooled, some has grown, but all of them have been on my radar from the year's beginning, so I'm happy that I can post the entire list now.  I'm wondering how many of these I'll actually see, at least in the theater (or on VOD).  From the first two batches (26 titles in total), I've only seen 13 of the films I was 'anticipating', but I have a feeling that I'll see a pretty big chunk of these in the theater.  Winter is my time to visit the cinema.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A month of activity here at A Fistful of Films!

Well, autumn has begun (officially, right, or am I early?) and this is quite frankly the beginning of the best time of the year, award's season.  It's not merely the fact that the best films of the year are about to be released or the frantic explosion of Oscar anticipation is about to overcome all of us, but autumn/winter is just my favorite time of year, period.  Give me a sweater and an overpriced coffee and a stroll through the city with my wife and kids in tow and the stars above my head and I'm set.

September is going to be a really busy month for me, but sadly it may be really quite (at least in parts) here on the blog.  I am finally taking my clan to Disney World, and we embark here in just nine days, so come next Thursday, it's going to be SILENT on this blog for almost two weeks.  Vacationing is always so bittersweet for me.  I literally cut off the outside world (although, I have Twitter now, so be on the lookout for updates on my meet and greets with the princesses) and so I can't really talk to you guys about anything.

BUT, I do have some cool stuff planned for the blog this month, especially the end of the month.  Before I leave (hopefully), I have two special Top Tens planned, a Fisti Awards ceremony (1997, baby), another one nearly wrapped up (but that may have to wait until I return), an early Blind Spot review (coming later this week) and I do plan on ripping Transcendence a new one sometime this week.

Wish me luck.

When I get back, two very special things are happening.  First, we have the Recast-athon happening!  If you haven't heard of it, take a gander here.  PLEASE play along.  This is a very important subject, one that I feel needs to be discussed.  Also, Twice a Best Actress is happening!  We have a really awesome panel with three returning bloggers (myself included) and three newbies!  It looks to be a really promising discussion to carry us through the beginning of Oscar season.  I'm so thankful to my fellow bloggers for being so willing to play along.

And guess what...they BOTH happen on September, 26th!!!

So, there is the rundown for the month of September.  I'm so happy to spend it with my blogging community, and I hope you all can follow along and participate, especially in the Recast-athon!

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Oscar Predictions!

It’s the 1st of the month again, and that means it’s time for an Oscar Predictions update!  Not a whole lot is changing, especially in the techs, but I’ll discuss more of that in the notes below.