Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Fistful of Reads 2015: On the Road

This one was down to the wire.  By down to the wire I literally mean that I woke up this morning with 100 pages left to read.  I don't know what happened to me this month, but it completely ran away from me.  So, that being said, I finished this one about five minutes ago, ingested it, and am still processing it.  

Oh, but I do have thoughts!

Before I get into my review though, here are the links:

Chris reviews The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

And that's it for this month.  Remember, if you review a book, any book (and any amount of books) on your blog, send me a link either here or on Twitter ( @fististhoughts ) and I'll link you on the last day of every month when I post my personal review.

Ok, so the book I read this month was:

Thursday Movie Picks: Father-Daughter Relationships

It's another Thursday and another Thursday Movie Picks!  This is a subject very near and dear to my heart, and so picking movies for this one was hard because there are just so many.  So, I decided to go with two films that carry particular meaning for me, and then one just to fuck with everybody.

Because, well, I can.

So, let's just get into it.

Today's theme is:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Bright Star

After taking a week off (mostly because I didn't have a chance to rewatch 9 to 5), I'm back with my entry for Hit Me With Your Best Shot!  This week we talk about Jane Campion's devastatingly romantic Bright Star.  Asking me to chose my favorite single shot from this film is like my Sophie's Choice.  I mean, this film is achingly beautiful and boasts so many stunning shots.  I even wrote an ode to the film's beauty back in 2014.  So, in trying to focus on one shot, I decided to go with my gut and here it is:

I know that this isn't the most dynamic or visually flashy shot, and the film is filled with them (curtains, butterflies, flowers), but for me, Bright Star is all about the subtle touches of skin, the hands, and these moments crawled all over my skin, filling me with this warmth, this sensual exhale.  This film is the perfect definition of romance, and it is in all of those soft moments that the film fills the screen with feeling and emotion.  It's so powerful, so intricate, so detailed and completely consuming.  When his hand slowly covers hers, my heart beats a little faster, my skin feels a little tighter, my chest heaves a little higher and I exhale deeply.

I'm in love.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blind Spot Series 2015: Three Crowns of the Sailor

So, I'm late with this, but I've been so swamped this month and have so many other blog posts to get done that this kind of slipped my mind.  It also happens that I wasn't entirely thrilled with my Blind Spot this month, which always makes it hard to muster up motivation to actually write a review for it.  It's hard because I didn't hate it, so I can't rip it apart, but I really didn't love it, so I can't lavishly praise it, and so I wind up wishing I could just gush some more over that awesome new Xavier Dolan news.

But alas, I can't.

Calm me, cinematic Gods, before my heart bursts from all the feels!

I don't know what I have done to deserve this, but news broke today that Xavier Dolan's next film will not be the film he's formulating with the one who has yet to wow me, Jessica Chastain, but is actually going to be A FILM WITH THE GREATEST ACTRESS OF OUR TIME; Marion Cotillard!  I have dreamed of this pairing rather vocally here a few times, even suggesting it here, and so this news is something truly out of my dreams.  My lips to God's ears.  Like, how many times can you say that?  Apparently this starts filming after Dolan wraps up his jury duties at Cannes, and this is said to be a bridge between his previous work and the larger scale production of his Chastain flick.  The rest of the cast includes Lea Seydoux (like, OMG) and Vincent Cassel, so this is bound to be epic.  Now, we can only pray that a competent US distributor realizes that Dolan's films NEED TO BE SEEN IN AMERICA and actually gets this in our theaters!  Based on Jean-Luc Lagarce's stageplay, this sounds incredible.  It looks like the film centers around writer who is dying (presumably of AIDS, from what I can gather from the small synopsis of the play) and who comes to visit his family after many years of absence only to stir up past emotions, and is said to be partly inspired by the Biblical account of The Prodigal Son and the story of Cain and Abel.  I'd assume that Cotillard and Seydoux are playing the sisters, Suzanne and Catherine.  Either way, this is sure to be my most anticipated film of whatever year it is released in!

40 Reasons Why I Loved 'The is 40'...

I've talked a lot about marriage here.  I've been married for nearly 12 years now and so it's something I think a lot about.  Married with children, no less, and so when I see films that attempt to accurately portray what that means, I find myself picking at them, trying to find their kernels of truth amidst all the lavish 'Hollywood cliches' so that I can do exactly what I need to do; put myself there.  One film I never imagined that I'd be able to do that with was This is 40, but about halfway through the film I looked over at my wife and she said to me "this is so us" and I realized that This is 40, despite being an outlandish comedy that has so many layers of preposterous falling from every scene, is surprisingly and completely honest.

This is life, people!

I have to say, it shocked me to find out that this film has received a bad reputation as being not funny and boring, since I can't think of a time I've laughed so hard, but what shocks me even more is that people aren't singing the praises of a film that actually went there, said what we were all thinking, and did so in a way that feels so 'forgivably honest.

I mean, there are so many conversations here that I have been on the cuff of actually having with my wife and yet never have because, well, they feel unforgivable and yet when Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann spout off I looked at her and she looked and me and we knew; we just knew.

So, here are 40 reasons (in the order that I thought of them) that I absolutely, 100%, LOVED This is 40:

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about sexy candlesticks, secret weddings and all that's wrong with Hollywood!

So, in coming up with stuff to talk about today, I found myself at a bit of a conundrum.  I wanted to address Richard Corliss dying, but I have to admit that I have never in my life read an issue of Time Magazine and so I've never even read one of his reviews.  I know that he was a very respected name/face in the industry, and that his passing was a hard thing for a lot of movie lovers, but I personally felt like I couldn't address it properly, which is also why I didn't dedicate a post to him last week.

I also really wanted to talk about the whole Bruce Jenner/Diane Sawyer interview, but I MISSED IT and so I have no idea what happened!

Don't tell me...I'll see it, eventually.

So, with all that said, I did find a few things to discuss, so let's get to it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 Movie Reviews Page

It's time!  My first review is up, and so I'll be keeping track of all my 2015 movie reviews here on this page, linked to the image to the right of the blog, so that you can reference them any time you'd like.  You'll see them separated by letter grade below.

Number of Films Seen: 80

Far From the Madding Crowd
It Follows
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Son of Saul
Testament of Youth

45 Years
He Named Me Malala
In the Heart of the Sea
Infinitely Polar Bear
James White
Mistress America
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Tom at the Farm
Water Diviner, The
White God

Ant Man
The Big Short
Clouds of Sils Maria
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. II
Maps to the Stars
The Martian
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Steve Jobs

About Elly
Bone Tomahawk
Furious 7
The Gift
I'll See You In My Dreams
The Intern
Jurassic World
Mississippi Grind
While We're Young
The Wonders

Black Mass
Goodnight Mommy
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Pitch Perfect 2

Every Secret Thing
The Hunting Grounds
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
The Walk

Fifty Shades of Grey
The Hateful Eight

The Minions
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

The Danish Girl
The Good Dinosaur
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

*all grades subject to change


It’s not uncommon for an actor to decide one day that they want to step out from in front of the camera and get behind it, especially when that said actor has had a very long and rewarding career working alongside inspiring and talented directors.  Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner, Ben Affleck, Angelina Jolie, Robert Redford; those are just a few names.  Recently even Scarlett Johansson picked up a project for her directorial debut.  Last year Russell Crowe made news when he landed on a very inspirational project for his directorial debut; ‘The Water Diviner’.  This true story of an Australian man who travels to Turkey to find the bodies of his dead sons and give them a proper burial was ripe for cinematic adaptation, and Russell Crowe was ready and willing to get into the heart of this story.  Having worked alongside such varied directors as Michael Mann, Ron Howard, Darren Aronofsky and Ridley Scott, Crowe has had the experience needed to try his hand at directing his own feature.

The question that remains is; how did he do?

Friday, April 24, 2015

You get back up...

Early last year I made a bold statement that Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’ would sweep the Oscars.  I held onto that faith, that stance, for pretty much the entire year until the film was released, the reviews were tepid and Award’s Season was in full swing.  It then became obvious that ‘Unbroken’ wasn’t going to come close to winning a single Oscar, even though it managed to snag three nominations.  I had yet to see the film, and so I was under the impression that Jolie crafted an inadequate film.  It all struck me as odd, since so many of the film’s facets seemed tailor made for Oscar (Jolie, Coens, Desplat, Deakins) and yet so many warned me that it was too on the nose for Oscar and that it would fail.

Failed Oscar bait is what they call this kind of thing.

Well, I’ve finally seen the film, and I can honestly say, no bias aside, that the Oscar snubbery baffles me.  What Jolie did here was construct a handsomely mounted biopic that carries with it a tremendous story of courage, strength and perseverance, covers a large portion of one man’s life, inspires, uplifts and pretty much checks off every single requirement for Oscar voters.  The fact that this was not wholly embraced by Oscar literally baffles me.  It makes no sense, for it is everything they love.

You know, except the fact that it was made by a woman.

I’m not going to get on a soapbox here, so I’ll leave it here, but I will say that Jolie’s film has more heart, more technical bravado and more depth than ‘The Theory of Everything’, ‘Boyhood’ and ‘The Imitation Game’, and so seeing this snubbed so staunchly, while those films were embraced across the board, really causes me to pause and question the way that the Academy thinks.  The accusations of sexism were swarming after AMPAS snubbed DuVernay and Flynn, and I got in on that, but this is yet another example of a film that played right into their hands and they completely ignored it, shunned it almost, without just cause.


Now, I’m not saying that ‘Unbroken’ is perfect.  I’m not even saying that I’d personally nominate it in many places (I mean, those sound nominations were justly deserved, so maybe there), but what I’m saying is that the criticisms heaped onto the film feel oddly places and undeserved here.

A film's worth is truly in the eye of the beholder...

The reaction to this film was pretty consistent; it’s not bad but it’s not great and set your expectations pretty low.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t hate this.  I went in expecting to see a film that was, for lack of a better word, terrible and what I got was a film that was, not great but surprisingly good.  I have issues with certain aspects of this, but overall this was not the complete letdown that I was expecting.

This isn’t an awards movie, which is probably why it suffered at the hands of critics and audiences, who expected it to be just that, but it’s a very good biopic that tells a very interesting story.

Gasping, literally...

I’m not the type to ask for a sequel.  For me, most films should stand alone and remain alone because elongating these stories tends to beat a dead horse and next thing you know it’s overstayed its welcome.  I’m also not one to ever wish that a film were a television series or a mini-series.  I don’t watch much television and series can tend to overwhelm me with the necessity to catch every episode each week.  All that said, when ‘Nightcrawler’ ended I said a silent prayer that it would continue, that the credits would stop rolling and I would be allowed to spend another hour, two, seven with Lou Bloom. 

I’d take a sequel.  I’d take a mini-series.  Are you listening, HBO?  Lou Bloom’s story is not over yet!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In a galaxy far, far away...

According to Christopher Nolan, I’m supposed to watch this movie more than once to fully understand it.  No thanks.  I have way too much on my plate to devote another three hours to trying to decipher each ridiculous frame of Nolan’s recent trip down pretentiousness.  I say all of this as a fan of his work.  I was a big supporter of ‘The Dark Knight’, and I mourned his Oscar snub since his direction of that film (really, the whole Batman trilogy) was brilliant and he personally recreated what the Superhero genre could look like.  I also adore ‘Inception’ and find all the flack it gets for being overwrought to be preposterous since it’s highly understandable, beautifully woven and articulated and thoroughly thought out.  I’m a fan of his, a real fan (not a rabid fanboy) and so I say all of this with love:


And by edit, I don’t mean in the way the film is spliced; I mean edit your ideas because you have too many of them and they are tearing apart the seams of your film.

Thursday Movie Picks: Superhero Movies

It's Thursday, so that means it's another episode of Thursday Movie Picks!  This one is a pretty popular theme, since we see a new one every other weekend.  Yup, you probably guessed it...

This week's theme is:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The 1986 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1986.  In all honesty, this was kind of a meh year in general for me.  I absolutely LOVE my Best Picture winner, and I kind of love like two other films, but after that I'm stuck with a slew of films I like and even admire but don't really love.  The films that so many laud as the very best of this year don't do a lot for me.  Yes, I like Stand By Me and The Fly and Platoon and Blue Velvet, but I don't love any of them.  I also don't care much for A Room with a View, which is shocking considering how much I generally adore all things Merchant Ivory, and I know that this is an unpopular opinion, but Aliens to highly overrated.  I'm also really gutted by all the crap concerning The Adventures of Milo and Otis, since the film is so lovely and yet I can't even be concerned with trying to place it anywhere considering what COULD have actually happened on set.  This is probably the only year where there are films in my Top Twelve that don't have some variation of an A Grade from me.  All the films on my actual ballot do, but once you get out to like #9 or so on my list, the grades start to slip a tad.  They are all good films, but there are really only three films from this year that I'd call GREAT!  But let's not be a downer, for there is a lot to love here (especially those acting ballots) in the Fisti Awards for 1986!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dolan heads back to Cannes!

No, he doesn't have another glorious film in contention, but this time he's on the jury!  I know, Coens yada yada Jury Presidents yada yada but THIS is what has me excited!  You all know what kind of a gushing fan I am of this man, and so all Dolan news is good news, but this is great news.  The rest of the panel (which includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Guillermo del Toro and Sienna Miller) is pretty great and diverse as well, but we all know who the most opinionated face on that jury is going to be.  If only I could be a fly on that table.

White Swan Black Swan Blogathon

Sati, over at Cinematic Corner, has spread her wings and invited us to follow her into the discussion of the duality of characters, or as she has so eloquently coined it, Black Swans.  I’ll let her explain:

What is black swan you may ask, Well, it has never been stated as an official term but I'd like to think the idea of a black swan/white swan is a very elegant way of depicting the duality in characters. So I encourage you to write about your favorite white swans/black swans, both in movies and in TV series. There are so many fascinating cases of character being one thing to the outside world and completely different person in reality - Mavis from Young Adult, Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, Brandon from can choose characters from all the genres and it's doesn't matter if they are lead or very supporting.
 I'd love for this to be also the opportunity to write about those fascinating characters from the psychological standpoint, so go for it!

Here are the rules:

1. Choose max 3 characters to write about.
2. You can also feature characters from TV series.
3. We are not looking for doppelgangers - we are looking for one person with two sides. For example in Black Swan you can write about Nina and her alter ego but not about Lily and Nina, which are two different people. You can write about Gollum/Smeagol but you cannot write about Bette and Dot - the Siamese twins from AHS: Freakshow - because technically they are two different people.
4. Write about why you chose the character

5. Provide a theory on what causes the two different sides and what are the signs and contradictions between the two.
6. Link back to the post and feature the logo for the blogathon
7. Let me know you wrote the post either in the comment, via twitter - @lady_sati or my e-mail -
8. The deadline is April 30th
9. Most importantly? Have fun!

So, for my entree I debated and listed and narrowed and ultimately decided to go with one example only for the reason that Sati asks us to write about WHY we chose this character (or these characters), and with one of the many I had in mind there was a very specific reason I chose it, and so I wanted to focus on that.

So my choice was:

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about movies Americans will refuse to watch, directors moving on, celebrities murdering each other and not-so Frenchmen!

It's Monday, so it's time to shoot the shit with A Fistful of Thoughts!  I debated just discussing the barrage of trailers and teasers we got last week, but everyone else has already done that, so do we need to talk about Superman or Batman or Star Wars again?  I'm thinking we're good on that for now.  Instead, we've got a list of films I'm dying to see that the US will almost certainly botch the distribution of, some directors announcing new projects, a nostalgic revival of sorts and a film I'm finally interested in now that I have some back story.

Let's get down to it!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The 1982 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1982.  Fucking Gandhi.  I can't stand that movie.  So flaccid, so self-important and underdeveloped and just, yuck.  So, like, you won't see that film anywhere here.  On the outset, 1982 can look like a pretty mediocre year, but the strength in the few films that rise to the top of the pack is so strong, so profound and so iconic (possibly the two greatest sci-fi films of all time) that I can't find fault with the year, despite the low number of truly great films.  It also saddens me that my two favorite films of the year pretty much compete head to head in every category and so one of them, which I consider to be one of the greatest children's films of all time (you can guess right now which film I'm talking about) has to settle with a mere Original Screenplay win and nothing more.  This also marks a pretty huge sweep, with my Best Picture winner taking home almost every award it's up for.  So, without further ado, I present to you the Fisti Awards of 1982!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Police Movies

It's Thursday, so as per every Thursday, we're talking Thursday Movie Picks with Wandering Through the Shelves!  If you aren't playing along, the question is WHY!?!?!  The process is simple; you get a theme and you chose three movies that represent that theme to share with the rest of the blogosphere.  So get to playing!

Now, the theme this week is:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The 1981 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1981.  Oscar was a weird one this year.  Fawning all over old people's uncontrollable shaking by a pond and political unrest and then awarding top honors of the night to a movie exploring religious themes under the guise of a sports movie ("I'm a runner!")...I'd call that a shock.  It's funny though, because I actually really like the eventual Oscar winner, Chariots of Fire, but it doesn't even snag a single nomination from me.  This year is too tight.  I'm a little all over the place this year myself, and I'm sure that a lot of my choices are going to be viewed as odd, especially when you realize that my Best Picture winner this year doesn't win any other award.  This year is just so good though, and despite snagging nominations in a slew of categories (my Best Picture winner has a total of 11 nominations) I'm not of the mindset that a Best Picture winner has to win more awards to validate it's BIG win.  That end prize is a prize that is almost entirely separate from every other prize, for it's the one award that says all of those other aspects came together in the perfect way, not that each aspect on it's own was the best.  So just because it doesn't win for it's direction, screenplay, acting or technicals doesn't mean those aspects didn't fit together perfectly (I mean it does snag noms in all those categories, and it's honestly my runner-up in many of them).  But the Fistis this year are strange in that no single film wins more than 2 awards, and only 3 films reach that height.  Yup, consider the wealth spread!

With that said, I present to you the Fisti Awards of 1981!

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Taxi Driver

It's that time of the week again, for us to play along with Nathaniel's Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and this week is all about TAXI DRIVER!  I fucking LOVE this movie.  Yes, it's Scorsese's best film, but more than that, it's De Niro's finest performance (period) and...MORE THAN THAT, it's one of the best films and best performances ever gifted to the world.

I'm not joking.  I am truly this hyperbolic about things I believe in.

So, when selecting my Best Shot for this week, I knew instantly what I wanted to chose.  This is somewhat two-part, to be honest, because my favorite shot is really my favorite because of it's association (or premonition) with another more iconic shot.  So, we'll look at this in reverse.  First, you all know the most iconic image to come from Taxi Driver:

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about messy myths, blossoming foreigners, another sequel, stabbing starlets and Idris Elba's bigger, blacker...Bond!

So, I was away this weekend.  It's always nice to have a getaway of sorts, but coming home and catching up on blog related things is always hectic and crazy.  I've missed so much.  I have a slew of comments to catch up on on reviews I had set to post while I was away (thank you guys for stopping by in my absence) and I have all of your blogs to visit this morning as well...and there's work, which is going to have to wait a few minutes while I compile my obligatory Fistful of Thoughts post for Monday!

Hold up, coffee's done.  I'll be back!

So the MTV Movie Awards were last night.  We won't be talking about them today.  The last MTV Movie Awards I actually watched was 2000, the year that Gladiator made me realize I should watch The Oscars instead.

But, we have a bunch of other stuff to talk about, so let's get to it!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Around and around we go...

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you took all of the Disney stories and smashed them into one another until they didn’t really have any identity anymore but took on this vague redundancy and became, for lack of a better word, stupid?  I personally have never wondered this.  I never wanted to wonder this.  Why would anyone wonder this?  Now, I can’t speak for Sondheim, who penned the famed musical, but this preposterous film adaptation, penned by James Lapine and directed by that hack known as Rob Marshall is so void of texture that it feels grossly underdeveloped, lazy and pointless.

The more I think about what this could have been and what it turned out to be the more I start to seethe at the mouth.

You see, Disney has a special place in my heart.  So do Broadway musicals.  So do dark, twisted incarnations of what we think we know and love.  So, seeing our Disney heroines thrust into a dark and twisted fantasy wrapped in music that swells from the girth of all things ‘Les Miserables’ was something I was, without question, looking forward to.  ‘Into the Woods’ was one of the films I personally could not wait to set my eyes on.  I expected something grand, something provoking, something challenging, something memorable.  What I got was something that felt too withdrawn, withered almost, underdeveloped, not reaching the heights it was setting for itself and, sadly, forgettable.

All that potential was squandered, and it makes me sick to my stomach.

The evolution of a soul...

Recently I read a comment about how Westerns were a dying breed, how the film genre was pretty much a forgotten and abandoned one.  In all realities, this is correct.  Still, every once in a while a Western comes along that makes one take pause and wonder why, in fact, the genre is dying.  Sure, the relevance of the dusty Western of yesteryear is not immediately prevalent, and yet there is a beauty, a stark relevance that can be nurtured from the genre, and some films have proven this with stunning results.

‘The Homesman’ is one of those films.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

To hell with your heroes...

I’m not going to try and tell you that ‘The Imitation Game’ is any kind of groundbreaking cinema.  It’s an adequately told story, generic in many parts (as far as the storytelling aspects are concerned) and it carries with it many tropes that the genre (historical biopic) tends to become roped into.  Still, this is a prime example of a story propelling the film forward, drawing you in with so much development.  Unlike the other ‘British biopic’ of the year, ‘The Theory of Everything’, ‘The Imitation Game’ is so rich in character development that it feels like a much more complete film, even if the score isn’t as rousing and the editing isn’t as sharp and the cinematography isn’t as lavish.

If this story had those technical embellishments, the film may have been perfect.

Yeah, tell me why you’re here again...

Finding out that ‘The Drop’ was adapted from a short story begins to explain a few things, for the main complaint I have with the film is that it feels like a lot of floating sub-plots and no real meat to hold it all together.  It’s so loosely composed that it somewhat feels empty and hollow, despite having a lot going on.

Sadly, I don’t care about any of it.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A boy and his drums…

I think it’s safe to say that ‘Whiplash’ was that little film that could this year, that one film that came out of nowhere, that small indie that everyone fell in love with and came up from obscurity to become a legit Oscar contender, even walking away with three Oscar wins.  There’s almost always one every year, but I don’t think anyone would have called this one a year ago.  No, a film about an angry teacher and an overzealous drum student doesn’t scream Oscar.

In fact, when I first heard of the film all I could think of was ‘Drumline’…and I scoffed.

But, ‘Whiplash’ proved to be more than that.

Selling your soul...

Fame, stardom, celebrity, immortality; these are things that many, many people dream of attaining.  To be considered legend, to attain unending youth and be a beacon of joy, hope and entertainment for the masses for an indefinite amount of time; who doesn’t want that?  With the stars of today (and of yesteryear), the only way to attain such immortality was to aspire to being a part of something that would, in due time, become classic and beloved.  This is the only way to assure that their legacy, their stardom, would live on.

In that sense actors like Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh are immortal.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Dance Movies (excluding all musicals or movies based on musicals)

It's Thursday, so that means it's time for another Thursday Movie Picks!  This week was a fun one, and I'm going to let you know now...I cheated a bit (it's not really cheating, I don't think...but sort of...for me...whatever).  

Let's just get into it!

This week's theme is:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Johnny Guitar

Well, we continue our Joan Crawford talk this week with an actual film starring Joan Crawford, and not one merely about her.  Yup, it's time for Hit Me With Your Best Shot!  Now, much like last week's entree, this is pretty much camp fodder, but Johnny Guitar has a better reputation and a legit fanbase.  I can't pretend that I'm part of it, as I find the film to be really messy, scattered, laughable and obnoxious, but Crawford is pretty incredible here (bringing such Faye Dunaway realness to the screen) and so for that I kind of appreciate this for what it is.  What it is is a campy western with a fearless lead performance.  What it isn't is a good movie.

But it's chuck full of amazing stills because Mercedes McCambridge is so all over the place and shamelessly hysterical in the most heightened of ways, and the painted backdrops are so...PAINTED...and Crawford strikes her movie star pose every single chance she chosing one shot was really hard.

And then this happened:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dear Russell Crowe...

You may be old, fat and angry.  You may not have had an Oscar nomination in over ten years.  You may be considered washed up.  You may have legions of detractors.  But, you know what; I still love you.  So, today, on your 51st birthday, I want you to know that I still think you're a hot piece of ass and I would have nominated you plenty of times since 2001 and I think you're just as talented and relevant and engrossing as you were in your 'prime' and I think all those detractors are just jealous haters who can suck it.  I have called you God.  I have publicly declared that I worship the ground you act on.  I am here to say that I am still by your side and your side is where I will stay.  I'll be seeing you at the movies...and in my dreams.

The 1974 Fisti Awards

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1974.  Legend.  The Godfather Part II became the first sequel to ever win Best Picture (since only one other has won, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King).  It's also the first time so far where The Fisti Awards share The Academy's taste in film, for we share Best Picture this year!  We also share the doling out of awards, for the film wins both 6 Oscars as well as 6 Fistis.  But the film year was much richer than a mere solitary masterpiece.  In fact, narrowing down my top categories, especially Best Picture and Director were extremely hard to do.  While The Godfather Part II feels as though it should be far ahead of the pack, it really isn't, and quite frankly I could hand a win to any of my top ten, for real!  From genres ranging from gangster to comedy to drama to musical to fantasy to horror to noir, 1974 is an astonishing year; ASTONISHING!

So with that, I present to you The Fisti Awards for 1974!

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Fistful of Moments Blogathon ~ Links

I don't even know what to say.  I'm still in absolute shock at the turnout for this.  When I first posted my initial list of Ten Perfect Cinematic Moments, I banked on a few comments, some discussion, suggestions and then that was all.  But then someone said "this would make a great blogathon" and I said "why not" and next thing I knew I was not only seeing posts from my circle of blogging buddies, but I was getting links to posts from blogs I'd never heard of, never seen before, blogs from all over the blogosphere who stumbled upon my blogathon through a post from a friend of a friend of a friend and here we are, with over THIRTY entrees!  I'm absolutely overwhelmed, humbled and honored.  I've only hosted two blogathons before.  The first only reaped ONE entree...the second under ten, so this is just more than I could have ever wished for, and there are more to come (keep them coming, for any new entrees will be linked on my Monday 'Fistful of Thoughts' posts).

In case you missed it, here is the blogathon announcement.

Alright, so before we get into linking off all of your glorious entrees, I want to do two things.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The feel again…

There is a saying that ‘it’s not the story you tell but how you tell it’, and for me, ‘Two Days, One Night’ is a perfect proof of that.  There is an extreme simplicity about this story, some could even say that the simplicity is almost skeletal, but the way that the Dardenne brothers have told it (and, really, how Marion Cotillard has told it) is so earnest, so honest and so rich that this simple tale becomes much more; so much more.  It’s odd to say that a film that is practically a repetition of scenes with different faces can be so enthralling, but at a brisk 95 minutes, ‘Two Days, One Night’ packs in SO MUCH character development in those repetitions scenes that it remains one of the most effecting films I’ve seen in all of 2014.

Nothing like the wrong time for a confession…

On the cover of the DVD for ‘The Two Faces of January’, it boldly declares that this film is from ‘The Producer of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley and the writer of Drive’.  By that description, you’d expect this film to be outstanding. 

This raises the question; why doesn’t anybody know about this movie?

The reason for that is because despite having a producer, writer and source that have all, in the past, created something memorable, exciting and iconic, together they produced something forgettable.  I’m not saying at all that it is a bad movie, because it’s actually pretty good, but it’s extremely forgettable.  There is nothing about this film that stays with you.  It’s all rather nice and yet…nice all too often gets lost in the shuffle.

I have a feeling that wasn't everything...

Do you remember early 2002, when a certain “generic” biopic won the Oscar over the mega-popular one-two punch of ‘Moulin Rouge!’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’?  It was inevitable, we all saw it coming (or we should have) and yet the months that followed brought scorn and resentment over the Oscar winner, scorn and resentment that are still heaped upon its back.  You see, I liked ‘A Beautiful Mind’.  I still do.  It’s a simple made film that follows some basic tropes that all biopics tend to fall into, and yet it was engaging and enjoyable and littered with interesting and beautiful performances.  Still, it’s a film that can be taken for granted and dismissed as ‘by the books’ and, as I noted above, generic.

I never truly realized how good of a movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ was until I sat down to watch ‘The Theory of Everything’.

I feel like a cunt every day...

I talk a lot about films about parenthood.  Being a father has changed the way that I look at things, and because I that I find a deep connection in the exploration of parenting, of fathers and mothers and even children because, in many ways, I feel as though I can relate regardless of the situation.  Even in depictions of situations that so clearly differ from my very own, I can find that kernel of universal truth that rings so clear.

I had no idea that ‘Starred Up’ was even about a father/son relationship when I saw this, but…wow!

‘Starred Up’ is a chaotic film, but not in the sense that you may assume given that description.  It’s extremely focused and makes a sharp point at being so, but it absorbs the atmosphere of the climate with which it festers and it explodes, scene after scene, in chaos; controlled and lingering chaos.  Within that chaos, there is raw, tender beauty; believe it or not.  In fact, ‘Starred Up’ is probably the one film that has grown so much for me since first laying eyes on it.  It’s a film that has rested in a way that swells in my heart, for it creeps up on you with a message that is so real, so invested that it makes an incredible impact.

That god.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The 1971 Fisti Awards

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1971.  This is one of those Oscar years where the obvious Oscar choices were overlooked in favor of a genre flick that many love (I don't, to be honest).  Despite the fact that I'm not all over the French Connection bandwagon, I'm kind of happy that it won, because it's one of those rare occasions where the Academy didn't merely go for tailor-made bait.  Still, for me this film was about so much more than that particular film, and when you consider the fact that Oscar actually nominated a slate of pretty incredible films (and such range), I'm a little sad that my least favorite of the lineup actually won.  For me, this year was pretty much about two films, which raked in almost all of my personal wins (and are nominated everywhere), and it's one of those instances where I feel like two masterpieces were birthed and it's an absolute shame they can't both be named Best Film of the Year.  It's also the first year so far where an American film has won Best Picture!  So, with all that out of the way, I present to you the Fisti Awards for 1971!

A Fistful of Films and The Cinematic Spectacle predict the Oscar WINNERS!

We started with predicting the nominees, but we're obviously foolish because Josh and I have decided to, once again, attempt predicting the winners.  Yes, we did this last year as well, and guess what; we bombed!  Neither of our Best Picture or Best Director predicted winners were even nominated, and out of all categories predicted the only correct prediction was the most obvious, Visual Effects (although we both did predict that Desplat would win, we just predicted the wrong film).  So, why bother with it this year?

Because it's fun!

Thursday Movie Picks: Teen Comedies

It's Thursday, so that means it's another chance to dig into Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks!  This theme produced a bounty of options, like, SO MANY to choose from, because quit frankly there is one made every weekend.  That doesn't mean that there were a bounty of great choices, considering that this particular genre is all about quantity and not necessarily quality, but there are some really, really great ones.

But before we get into all that, it's April now, so let's recap:

Black & White Movies (made since 1970)



And now for this week's theme:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Fistful of Films and The Cinematic Spectacle predict the Oscars!

For the past two years (three including this year), Josh over at The Cinematic Spectacle and myself have teamed up for our first official Oscar predictions of the year.  What better day to announce our first blind predictions than on April Fools day!  It's never too early to talk about Oscar, as all cinephiles know well enough, so let's just get on with it.

Last year we attempted to predict Foreign Film, but we're bypassing that category this year, as well as the shorts and Documentary, since at this point we don't even have a good idea of what is being released.

Let's do this!