Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Fistful of Reads 2015: Gone Girl

Alright, so March is over and I've read another book!  This time it's Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  I know, I know, it's about time...but before we get into my thoughts on the book, here are the links for the month.  

So, no one actually sent me a link this month for books reviewed, but we always know that Irene is good for a few, so head on over to her site to see reviews for Big Little Lies, The Girl on the Train and Sharp Objects.

And now for mine:

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Mommie Dearest

Ermagerd, it's Tuesday and today we get to talk about Mommie Dearest, which is like the tackiest most awesome biopic ever released in the history of cinema.  I'm serious when I say this, but this movie could be the greatest movie of all time, if it weren't so clearly one of the worst.  It's just so iconic and epic in it's legend, and everything you've heard (good and bad) about it is absolutely correct.  It's such a bizarre film in that it's so absolutely awful and understanding of it's own awfulness that it becomes so...amazing!

So, thank you Nathaniel for making this a part of Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

I don't always want to gravitate towards to obvious scenes in a film when it comes to these things, because I find it fun to look for less notable shots, but because I've been thinking a lot about cinematic moments lately (yes, I'm plugging my own blogathon), I kind of felt compelled to go with one of those here.

We all know the scene...the infamous scene:

I don't care what you say, but that is cinema.  I'm still not sure if it's good cinema, but it's cinema.

I could just leave it at that, since that scene, that shot, is perfection, but there is another shot that struck me a little stronger, possibly because it was so eerily representative of what was about to come.  So, my choice for Best Shot is:

You can just feel what is about to happen...you can see it through those dead eyes...this monster that was created out of a legend, and whether we are prepared to take in all the crazy or not, we are alerted to it's presence and we should count that as fair warning for the crazy train we have just boarded.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about stealing thunder, mocking subtitles and basically all things unnecessary!

Ok, so this isn't going to be your typical (or at least my typical) Fistful of Thoughts.  I skipped last week in favor of announcing my Fistful of Moments blogathon, and will probably be skipping next week when I post the recap post filled with all those amazing links (you guys are outdoing yourselves, and I'm so happy about it!), so I really wanted to get one of these to you today.  The problem is that work is REALLY busy and I am finding myself working on posts for days on end because I have no time to get anything done, and I have posts that need to be wrapped and done for tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday...and I'm still working on them!

BUT, I have been thinking about something lately and I really wanted to talk with you guys about it.  We talk about remakes a lot, not necessarily here, but as a cinephile community we can't help but talk about it because every year we are bombarded by remakes and sequels and remakes of sequels (oh god, have we gotten those yet, because they'll be coming I'm sure) and so it's a topic of conversation.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A false sense of priority…

I’m a good father.  I know this.  I don’t need anyone to tell me this for me to know it.  I’m also not a perfect father.  I know this.  I don’t need anyone to tell me this for me to know it.  Being a good father does not mean you are perfect.  In fact, I’m going to tell you a story.

Two years ago, my family went on vacation.  We rented a boat and we went out on the ocean and we looked for dolphins and we floored it head on into waves and we just had a great time…until something happened.  The boat hit a swell and the whole front end was engulfed by the ocean.  It looked, for a brief moment, like we were going to sink.  My whole family was on this boat.  My wife, my daughters, my father and mother.  In a flash of panic, I did something wrong.  I ran to the other end of the boat.  I fled from the wave, leaving my wife and one of my daughters (who were seated near me) to get drenched completely.

No one died.  It was false panic.  The boat flooded and then quickly was…unflooded (not a word, I know) and everyone was safe and sound, and my daughter who was completely soaked thought the whole experience was fun. 

Thankfully my wife laughed it off and didn’t make me feel awful about it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Mother-Daughter Relationships

This one caught up with me.  I don't know why I didn't realize what day this was, but this week has kind of run away from me.  But it's Thursday, and that means another Thursday Movie Picks post! This week's theme is a near and dear one for me, and so I'm excited to play along.

The theme of the week is:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The 1967 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1967.  This is another one of those years that are famous for being 'the best of the best', somewhat like 1939, except I don't think that my exclusion of this year's Oscar winning BP, In the Heat of the Night, is going to be as controversial as when I left Gone with the Wind off my 1939 ballot.  Despite not nominating In the Heat of the Night for more than two awards (both in the acting categories), I have to profess a deep love for this year.  It was the first 'Oscar Year' that my wife and I explored together (and kind of the only since my cinematic indulgences grew and my wife's diminished) and it really proved fruitful, for this year is just so incredibly rich.  Just think of the legendary films that came from this year...Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In Cold Blood, Cool Hand Luke...this year is legend for a reason!

And I do promise that I like American films...I just like European ones better.

With that, I present to you the Fisti Awards for 1967!

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

It's time for another Hit Me With Your Best Shot post!  I was super excited to see Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow on the schedule because it was a pivotal film in my cinephile development, and so it holds a special place in my heart.  I wish that I had fully read the rules for this entry, for if I had read the entire post before this morning, I would have gone the 'pick a shot from each episode' route, but instead I merely have one shot for you this morning.

And I'm sure it's an unexpected one.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Fistful of Moments Blogathon!

So, last week I posted a Ten Perfect Cinematic Moments list and it was met with unexpected excitement from my fellow bloggers who seemed to really love the idea and even suggested it would make a great blogathon, so that got me thinking...LET'S DO THIS!

The rules are super simple, so simple they may as well not be rules, just suggestions.

1) Pick a number between 1 and 100 (any more than 100 is just gaudy)
2) Choose that many cinematic moments that are either your all time favorites or ones that could, on any given day, be your all time favorites
3) Post them on your blog (or Tumblr or whatever) with the above header (or one you create for yourself)
4) Send me the link by either posting it here in the comments or getting ahold of me on Twitter ( @fististhoughts )

So, I just want to clarify what I consider a cinematic moment before we continue.  To quote my previous post: 

We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think "man, this is what the movies are all about". We relive those moments in our mind's eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies. It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it's edited together. It could be the way the moment uses it's actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us. It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question. It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange. It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.

So have at it!  I can't wait to see what you come up with.  I'll be posting a summary post with links to all participants on APRIL 6th.  I debated giving everyone more than two weeks to participate, but I've found that if you're going to participate in a blogathon that intrigues you, you usually do it within the first week of hearing about it, or else you forget.  So, you get two weeks my friends!  But, like my rules that aren't really rules, I'm flexible, so if you're going to be late, don't fret, I want any and everyone to play along and I will link you all! 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Blind Spot Series 2015: They Shoot Horses, Don't They

The month has fleeted from us rather quickly (man, this year is moving along, isn't it?) and so it's time for another Blind Spot entry.  This one was hard.  That isn't to say that it was bad, because it wasn't.  It was just hard.

Enough of that.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ten Perfect Cinematic Moments

There are a couple of reasons that I've been thinking out this lately.  We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think "man, this is what the movies are all about".  We relive those moments in our mind's eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies.  It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it's edited together.  It could be the way the moment uses it's actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us.  It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question.  It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange.  It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.

The list is also kind of endless.

So, in random order (because, like, how do you actually rank these), here are ten of my favorite (not an absolute favorite list, since there are bound to be moments I'm forgetting and some that I'm even thinking of now that would probably rank in my Top Ten and yet I'm leaving off because I want to highlight others) cinematic moments.

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Adapted from a Young Adult Novel

It's Thursday again!  Another Thursday Movie Picks post inspired by Wandering Through the Shelves!  

Let's just do this.

The theme for the week is:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The 1961 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1961.  My GOD do I love this year.  This is one of those years where every category for me was so rich and so full of viable contenders that narrowing my fields down was really, really hard.  I'm kicking myself for missing the opportunity to see The Mark when it aired on TCM.  I didn't realize that it was impossible to find on DVD.  I'm not sure how the film would have worked into my already really tight ballots, but I love me some Rod Steiger (seriously, one of the greatest actors of any generation) and so I really want to see the film.


Anyways, this year, for Oscar anyways, was all about West Side Story, and it's easy to see why!  The movie won TEN Oscars, which is, like, incredible.  It doesn't win ten Fistis, but I love the movie.  I do have a film that does kind of sweep for me this year though, winning seven awards.  But, that doesn't mean that they rest of the year is that much lower than it.  This is one of my favorite collective ballots, with my Best Picture and Lead Actress ballots especially being two of my favorite collective ballots of all time, and my Lead Actor winner is my all time favorite performance, period.  I also have one person who was nominated three times in the same category (I'll let you find that one) and just a whole bunch of awesomeness going on.

Also, the Italians were strong this year; like REALLY strong.

Alright, here we go; the Fisti Awards for 1961!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Quiet Man

I planned on watching this film all weekend and yet time got away from me and life got busy and, well, I was forced to digest this in parts over the morning while I was attempting to work and not allow my boss to know that I was, well, watching a movie!  But, how could I miss this, for I'm trying my hardest to play along every week to Nate's Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

I'm so happy I fit this one in today.

Now, I'll be honest.  I'm not a John Wayne fan.  I have a very close friend who owns all of his movies, and a mother in law who has a painting of the man hanging in her living-room, but I have never been fond of his acting, at all.  I have always been on the outside of his legend, shrugging at his presence and his drawl and pretty much considering him a one-trick pony.  So, when it was announced that The Quiet Man was the film of the week, I was less than excited.  


Monday, March 16, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about being a blogger, being a cinephile, being old and just, well, ME because today is all about ME!

So, I didn't want to skip A Fistful of Thoughts today, but considering that it's my birthday I thought I'd do this a little differently.  Instead of celebrity news, I thought I'd do this a little differently.  Let's talk about me.  LOL, sort of.  I have a lot of thoughts, and while I covered some of them in my previous post (thank you guys so much for your love and comments), I wanted to elaborate on a few things and just, well, get it all out there.

So let's talk about me!

Today...I turn 30

So, today I turn 30.  That’s a big deal, right?  It feels like a big deal, even though I’ve felt possibly even older than 30 for quite some time.  That’s what children (multiple children) will do to you.  I tell all my friends, you age about 5 years with the first kid, and it doubles with each one you add on, so this would make me 55 (do the math).  30 is a benchmark though, right?  I mean, most people have all these goals of things they want to accomplish before they hit these big benchmark numbers and so I find myself wondering…what the hell have I done with my life?  I guess I have this false sense of urgency when it comes to aging because I’ve always told myself I’m going to live forever and so instead of making goals I just live each day for what it is, which isn’t always the greatest way to handle things, but looking over my past 30 years, I can’t say that I regret anything.  Well, I take that back…there are things I regret, but in the wide scope of things, they brought me to here, and here is a very comfortable and happy place for me.  I have a wife of nearly 12 years, I have 3 beautiful, healthy children, I have a secure job, I have a nice home, I have the best friends I could ask for, I may not be able to travel and just goof off because, like, money is pretty tight, but I have traveled, I have seen other parts of the world and I have the pictures to bring me back, so I’m good…for now.  And yet, looking over that list of things that should make me really happy and appreciative for where I am in my life (and don’t get me wrong, I am appreciative and happy), I do see that something feels amiss, something very clear is just not there.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The 1957 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]

1957.  This is one of the first 'classic years' that I thoroughly indulged in, and yet I'm sure, just like with every one of these Fisti Awards posts, I'm going to get recommendations from fellow bloggers that I never even heard of.  Despite it's small showing here, I'm actually a fan of Oscars big winner; The Bridge on the River Kwai.  It's a very well made spectacle of a film, and it's truly an engaging and entertaining film...it's just not my favorite of the year.  As I'm sure you're beginning to notice, I love foreign films, and I seek them out with pure abandon as I try to fill in the gaps of my personal viewing lists, and so names like Fellini, Godard and Bergman are going to be names you read a lot while scanning through my personal awards.  This year we have a Best Picture ballot that covers a wide range of genres and themes, from romance to drama to musical to comedy, from infidelity, love lost, spiritual conundrums, war and moral ethics.  I'm proud of it!  This is also one of those rare years where the bulk of the awards go to two films, each taking five and no other film winning more than one.  So, without any further ado, here are the Fisti Awards for 1957!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Live Action Fairy Tales

So, it's Thursday, and that means that it's time for another one of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks!  If you're new to the site or have just missed every other Thursday post, here's the run down.  Basically, every Thursday, bloggers unite to post three films that are representative of the theme selected by Wandering Through the Shelves.  The diversity of lists and the bloggers who provide them makes for great conversation and will hopefully inspire all of us to dig into movies we may have never even heard of.

So, moving on...

This week's theme is:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Paris is Burning

I had never heard of Paris is Burning until Nate announced it was part of his Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.  Since I've been embracing documentaries as of late, I was pretty excited to learn something new about a subject that I'm very unfamiliar with; the drag scene of the late 80's.  I can't say that I was particularly taken with this film, but this isn't really about the film itself but about the imagery within the film, and so I have to note that I was pretty taken by the way in which many of the film's key scenes were staged and shot.  

While watching Paris is Burning, I kept being reminded that documentary filmmaking is such a direct way of using imagery to explore and explain; a way to understand a particular subject through the art of exposure.  For me, Paris is Burning used personified this in the way in which it made you a direct part of the action.  It consumed you, it swirled around you but most impactfully, it reached out and touched you.  The broad gestures and commanding presence filled every ounce of screen and made this extremely closed in photography feel larger and broader than it was.

Every turn of the catwalk, every jeer from the crowd, ever hoot and holler felt so full and explosive.

I responded to this tactic in terms of filmmaking because it felt wholly invested in the purpose of the film itself.  

So, there were a countless number of screenshots that showed this fullness of presence, but for me the one that stuck with me the most was actually one of the very first shots.

Before we even see the Ball, before we even see the inside of this club and the attention grabbing antics, our attention is grabbed by the presence of Pepper Labeija as she makes her way to center stage.  There is something about the way that she completely takes up the whole frame, allowing just the tiniest amount of light to come through, that feels so telling of the remainder of the film.  It's almost as if she's being drawn to the light, it's presence peering out over her shoulder.  

This is a film about big personalities all seeking a way to express themselves and be heard, be accepted and be special.  This is a film about stepping out into the spotlight.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about the future of movies, a beast of a rising star, indecisive Oscars and some absolutely horrifying news!

It's Monday!  That means it's time for another Fistful of Thoughts post.  Now, I've been sitting on some stories for the better part of a week now, waiting to talk about this stuff.  I warned Ruth when she posted her 5 for the Fifth post last week that we were going to be discussing some of the same stuff today, and while I debated changing my course and finding some new stories...I didn't really want to.  

So, let's get started.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

He said, she said…

Color me surprised when I found out that ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’ wasn’t about a girl who, you know, disappeared.  Maybe it was all the ‘Gone Girl’ hoopla that was escalating around the time that some people were starting to whisper about this film, but I was under the impression that the title character, Eleanor, disappeared.  I mean, I guess she kind of does, since her husband doesn’t know where she is for like thirty minutes of the movie, but she never really disappears since we, the audience, know where she is at all times and she’s never deliberately ‘hiding’, she’s just not at her house.

But this is possibly all Harvey Weinstein’s fault.

Yes, ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’ is yet another film that Harvey butchered, taking what was supposed to be an elaborate character study of two sides of a particular story and condensing it to what he considered a more palatable presentation.  That means that two films (‘Him’ and ‘Her’) were combined into one film (‘Them’) and the editing left us with a very incomplete and unsatisfying film.

I’m trying to envision what the combined feel of ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ would be, but I’m struggling to care through this underdeveloped bore of a hybrid film.

The dance...

There’s a part of me that wishes that Bennett Miller would direct a film about Mark Schultz’s Twitter rampage over his direction of ‘Foxcatcher’, because I have a feeling that that film would be more entertaining than this one was.  That isn’t to say it would be a better film, because ‘entertaining’ has very little to do with quality, but there is something almost stagnant about ‘Foxcatcher’ that makes it hard to fully invest in.  Some have called this glacial, but I was rooting for this because slow and brooding and cold and detached are qualities that I’m not always turned off by, when they serve the purpose of the film, and Bennett Miller has infused these qualities into his last two films (mostly in ‘Capote’), and I was a big fan of both.

This was hard to watch.

The story behind ‘Foxcatcher’ is a truly intriguing one.  Since the film’s release, despite the critical reception and initial adoration from the film’s subject, Mark Schultz, Schultz turned to accusing the film of being largely fabricated and misleading.  How much of his ranting and accusations I actually believe is debatable and fluctuates from day to day, since so does his attitude towards the film itself.  But, I’m not unaware that film often fabricates for dramatic effect, and so I know that this is not ‘the whole truth’ but more an interpretation of the truth. 

This doesn’t bother me.

And then you explode and make everyone your bitch…

You remember when you were a teenager and all your friends were partying and having so much fun drinking and doing drugs and you were like, “WHY NOT ME”, and so you joined in that one night when they were all wasted and experimenting with that new drug that was supposed to get you “SO HIGH” and then you accidentally snorted way to much of it and passed out and everyone thought you were dead but you weren’t, and when you woke up you were a superhero?

Yeah, I don’t remember that time either.

I’ve never done drugs.  It’s never appealed to me.  I have friends who have, I also have a sister who was an addict and I have known some family friends who are no longer with us because of drugs.  Yeah, I’m happy to say I’ve never done them.  Had I, for one second, thought that they would give me the ability to do anything that Scarlett Johansson does in this movie, I would have overdosed when I was eight.  Simple as that.  I would have gone all Scarface on a table of coke and, well, it wouldn’t have ended pretty.  It doesn’t end pretty here either, but like, this is a movie and so, whatever.

I guess that’s kind of the problem too, because this movie is kind of ‘whatever’ thanks to the fact that everything is so preposterous it makes you want to punch things.

This was honestly almost as dumb as ‘Transcendence’, but this was far more fun to watch, so it gets extra points for that.

On the count of Celine Dion…

Does anyone really want to grow up?  I mean, it’s a part of life, but does anyone really want to have to do it, especially once it’s become inevitable?  Sure, as children we can’t wait for it.  My daughter constantly tells me she can’t wait until she’s seventeen, for she just imagines life as a teenager to be perfection.  She’s seven.  But even that isn’t really grown up.  Who doesn’t want to be a careless teenager?  Once she’s seventeen, she’s going to hate it because that is when her emotions are going to kill her and heartbreak will be around the corner and my ‘house rules’ will ruin her life, but she doesn’t know any of that yet.  Let her dream.  But, once she is seventeen and she’s crying in her room to some pop ballad about lost love, is she going to think to  herself “I can’t wait until I’m thirty and working every day and struggling to pay my bills and raise a family and worry about them and life and how I’m going to make something of myself”?  Probably not, because heartbreak and emotions suck, but there is still that carelessness, that aloofness, that freedom alongside it that you only get once; and then it’s long gone.

I don’t believe in Saints…

‘St. Vincent’ isn’t really a good movie.  I mean, I guess I should probably start with that.  It’s one of those movies that dwells in the realm of ‘been there done that better before’, and the predictability of it all can feel extremely lazy, and the ridiculousness of some (most) of the plot could, in the wrong hands, feel horribly mind-numbing, and some of these characters (most) are just so flat out preposterous that it should all crash and burn and quite frankly I should be writing a scathing review and yet, there is something about ‘St. Vincent’ that feels so organically watchable.  Like, it’s so wholly enjoyable despite being so wholly awful.

Oh, and Bill Murray is just ON IT.

So, I guess I’m not going to rip this one apart.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The 1956 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]

1956.  This is a less controversial year, at least with my personal awards.  No one is going to take issue with the Around the World in 80 Days snub, or at least they shouldn't, since it's probably the absolute worst Best Picture Oscar Winner of all time.  Like, seriously, that movie is an awful mess.  The biggest pot stirrer here is the inclusion of La Strada.  Foreign films are a strange rule-bender with the Fistis.  The release dates are so scattered that they become really hard to pin down.  Some are released stateside the same year they are dropped in their home country, other times the following year, sometimes years later (like YEARS later) and other times never at all, and so I adopted one rule that I try to stick to...If it was nominated for an Oscar then it competes in that film year at the Fistis.  If it was not Oscar nominated, then I place it in whichever year I want, either the year it was released stateside or the year it was released in it's home country.  This fluctuates depending on the film years in question, wherever it would fit best.  I know, it's a weird rule but it works best for me.  So, for this reason, La Strada competes in 1956 instead of 1954.  It was nominated for Original Screenplay and even won Foreign Film (how was it eligible for that when it was released in Italy in 1954?) so that is why it is here...and it dominates, as it should!

So, without further ado, I present the Fisti Awards for 1956!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Sound of Music

Hit Me With Your Best Shot is back, and I promised Nathaniel I would try my hardest to play along.  I fear that I won't be able to see Paris is Burning in time, but luckily for me I have The Sound of Music within arm's reach, and it's never hard to get my kids to sit down and watch a movie with me.  So, last night the whole family sprawled out on the couch to catch Julie Andrews in all her glory belting out the songs we all love and know from the hilltops.  

I LOVE Julie Andrews...so much!

Anyways, the obvious choice was, well, obvious, since that picture of Andrews running up the hilltop, her arms outstretched and her voice escalating, is pretty much the most iconic cinematic shot of all time, but I wanted to go elsewhere with this.

I have a real soft spot for depictions of intimacy, especially those rich moments where you can see someone's personal opinions and feelings shift within a single look.  For me, the most beautiful scene within The Sound of Music is that dance between Andrews and Plummer (how was he NOT Oscar nominated for this?).  It's all in a look, and in this moment, in this scene, we see so much about the way that these two individuals are shifting in their affections towards each other.  Andrews is great in this scene, but for me this is Plummer's moment to shine.  He commands so much attention and displays so much deeply rooted blossoming intimacy.

That is why my Best Shot is this:

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about dynamic duos, thieving minorities, Canadians, pearl necklaces and thirsty Oscar winners!

It's Monday, so it's time to delve into another Fistful of Thoughts, and this week we have a diverse group of controversial comments, promising projects and hilarious discoveries.  I'm sure that many of you have already heard about some of these stories, but let's talk about them together!

Let's start with some good news!