Friday, January 30, 2015

A Fistful of Reads 2015: Wolf in White Van


Alright, so January is over, and my New Year's resolution to read a book a month at least lasted the first month.  I also encouraged my fellow bloggers to play along, and we got a few links for you!  We'll start with those, before getting to my personal 'read' this month.

Chris reviews The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Irene reviews...a lot of stuff, including Station Eleven, Winter at the Door, A Good Marriage & 1922, Captured, Dark Places, The Just City, Cold Mourning, World War Z and Butterfly Kills, and that's not even counting the guest posts and special book highlights all over her amazing blog.

And then there's mine:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Married Couples Movies


Another week has gone by and it's time to talk about three more movies connected by a theme in Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks!  I'm loving these, for it gives me something to work for each week, and the diversity in the lists each blogger comes up with makes for a really fun read.  So, this week's theme was actually suggested by one of the contributing bloggers, Wendell over at Dell on Movies.  

It's also a theme I take very personally...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

In with the New Blogathon (hosted by Dell on Movies)


I’d love to say that I thought long and hard about this one before finally deciding on a ‘remake’ to feature here, but I’d be lying.  This was the first film that came to mind and it never left and there are so many reasons why this remake is so much better than I just, well, had to go with it.

Let’s get the formalities out of the way first.

So, I feel like a dick for dropping this ball, but I’ve been doing that lately, being late and shit for all these blogathons that I really want to be a part of and so I’m so happy that Wendell graciously extended his deadline so that I could participate (well, he didn’t do it specifically for me, but I was part of the problem that caused the extension). 

Basically, we are to pick a remake that we actually think is better than the original.  The only real rule is that we cannot chose a sequel (so no Spider-Man 2 was better than Spider-Man) and that we need to include the name of the blogathon (see my post title) and link back to Dell on Movies (which I just did).

So let’s talk dragons and tattoos and sadomasochists and David fucking Fincher!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I just thought there would be more…


I’ve been really nice today with my reviews and doting over certain movies that it’s time I go ahead and just even things out a little bit.

I feel like I’ve been hating on this movie for months, years even, but it’s really only been about a month since I saw it (maybe a touch longer) and it’s not that I’ve even said all that much about it, but because of all that undeserved love, affection, praise and accolades that it has been receiving, it feels longer, so much longer.  The thing is, I’ve been sitting on this review, trying to figure out the best way to express my feelings about this movie and it struck me as really odd that I just could never come up with anything.  I felt like I had nothing to say, really, and the bottom line that I drew was that I kind of had no feelings about this movie.

And that, my friends, kind of says it all.

The bear-necessities!


When the trailer for ‘Paddington’ (you know, the one with the whole bathroom fiasco) dropped last year, I got scared.  My kids cheered and talked about it non-stop for months and kept asking me when the movie was coming out and all I could think of was how AWFUL ‘Yogi Bear’ was and how I was probably already doomed to see that awful looking ‘Annie’ movie (which I magically avoided, thanks to a Grandma who bit that bullet) and I just didn’t want to have to see this movie, at all.  I never read the books, knew nothing of the character, had no nostalgic reason to care and it just looked like sloppy, obvious, childish nonsense; and I didn’t want any part of it.

Then BAFTA nominations happened and word across the pond was that this movie was, you know, really good and suddenly I was interested and hyping my kids up because this could actually be one of those kids movies that I enjoyed.

And enjoy it, I did!

Oh, the controversy!


So, we all know what happened here.  It felt like mere moments after the poster for the controversial ‘The Interview’ was released, North Korea declared war on The United States.  Not quite literally, but pretty much.  Kim Jong-un made it pretty clear that he was NOT happy about being the subject of an assassination flick, and he stated that if the film were released, he would see this as an act of war.  Then there was the Sony hack, which appears to have something to do with North Korea as well, and threats to recreate the atrocities of 9/11 on any theater that dares play the film.

Then Sony pulled it, got a LOT of flak for it, decided to back out of the hole they jumped into and released it anyway, and now the world thinks the whole thing was a ploy to pump up interest in the film.

Who cares, just see the movie because it’s HILARIOUS!

The dawn of a new day…


I have to say that not a single film this year has surprised me, in a good way, as much as ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’.  I have nostalgic love for the original films, because I remember watching them with my father, but other than a few catch-phrases, some interesting visual choices and that nostalgic feeling, I can’t say that the ‘Apes’ films are really all that good, and the sequels are atrocious.  The Tim Burton reboot was disgustingly awful (and my theater memories of that debacle still make me cringe).  Then they decided to reboot this AGAIN, this time with the incredible Andy Serkis and James Franco (who’s arguably incredible, too).  I was NOT about to spend money to see that movie.  I don’t care who you have in front and behind that camera, I do not have a great relationship with those apes and I don’t really care to ‘try to work on it’.

I divorced them as soon as I walked out of the theater on July 27th, 2001, and since then I’ve moved across the country, changed my name and pretty much wiped their existence from my memory.

I hate when films I have no desire to see because I’m convinced I’ll hate them turn out to have great reviews and legions of fans (a lot of whom were surprised they enjoyed it) and so then I’m forced to…see it for myself.

Now, I liked the reboot.  I did.  I didn’t love it.  I found some of it to be reaching a bit, some of it under-thought and the conclusion to be a tad underwhelming, but overall, it was a serious (and I mean SERIOUS) step up from that Burton nightmare.  I wasn’t ready to commit to anything, but I was ok with ‘hanging out a few times’.  Now that I’ve seen ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’, I’m debating a marriage proposal. 

Like, I’m seriously thinking about going all Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton with this franchise (I really hope you get that reference).

The future and the past aren’t as different as we may think…


When I was a kid, the X-Men were kind of this unattainable awesomeness.  My father was extremely strict when it came to entertainment, and he found superheroes as a whole to be far too violent for a young boy to entertain himself with, and so for years I was only allowed to actively enjoy Spider-Man and Superman, two heroes that my father deemed tame enough for his son.  So, whenever I’d go to the grocery store with my mother, I’d spend the hour or so in the magazine isle reading comic after comic of X-Men adventures, praying that she wouldn’t catch me.  I didn’t own any X-Men action figures until I was around twelve, when my father started getting soft and pretty much just didn’t care anymore.  So, for all time now, I will carry with me this eventual victory over, what I deemed childhood oppression, and so because of that I will always love the X-Men.

When Bryan Singer brought the X-Men to the big screen back in 2000, I was thrilled.  I was fifteen and it was like the culmination of all things awesome about my childhood was being realized.  I was crossing over from boy to man, and the X-Men were coming with me. 

I’m not like this huge Singer advocate, but his presence was absolutely missed in that third messy installment.

Monday, January 26, 2015

SAG Winners!

So, last night SAG predicted the Oscars, and we saw a slight surprise and a possible turn of events and so let's just get right into talking about these wins.

Supporting Actress ~ Patricia Arquette
There isn't a whole lot to say about what this win means for her with regards to an Oscar, because we've known she was going to win that undeserved Oscar for months now, but a word of advice, when you actually do win the Oscar, don't fake tears and surprise like you did last night, and DON'T read from a piece of paper.  You looked a mess and felt boring as fuck.  Spice it up a little.  Give a better speech than you did a performance, please.

Supporting Actor ~ J.K. Simmons
Much like Arquette, we've known this was coming for months and so we're used to it, and he's used to it, so he didn't fake anything; he just got up there, said what he had to say about appreciating every actor that 'supported' his film, made a joke about sleeping with the director (his wife is a director) and then walked off stage; like a pro.

Lead Actress ~ Julianne Moore
Despite lack of critics' wins, this was inevitable; it was Moore's year and we all knew it.  It's hard to be mad at this, too, because despite the fact that this may not be her finest performance (I haven't seen it, so I can't judge) and despite the fact that she has some stiff competition for Oscar (Pike is amazing, and Cotillard is always amazing), Moore has been doing this for so long and is due.  She deserves to have 'Academy Award Winner' in front of her name.  Actors rarely win for their best performance.  It's all about politics and timing, and the timing is right for her.  Beautiful speech too, so yay for her.

Lead Actor ~ Eddie Redmayne
Now, this is where we can start trying to figure out what this means for an Oscar, because this race is, at the moment, wide open.  I thought for a certainty that Keaton had this one in the bag.  He seemed to fit the SAG mold rather well, but this turn of events has me worried for his Oscar chances (why am I worried?  I haven't seen the film and I don't generally care for him as an actor...).  Redmayne has the BAFTA, we can all assume, and so that will mean that Redmayne will have BAFTA, SAG and Globe walking into Oscar night, while Keaton has a Globe, two BFCA's and the bulk of the critics' wins.  And then there is Cooper, who's film is gaining a LOT of traction.  It's, in all honesty, a three way race that I feel is going to come down to a photo finish.

I'm still betting on Keaton, because...

Ensemble ~ Birdman
This film is making a lot of ground in an attempt to dethrone Boyhood, and it could possibly pull it off.  With PGA and now SAG wins under it's belt, it's poised to make a mad dash for Oscar glory, and if that's the case, Keaton stands a good chance of benefiting from the support.  Does an ensemble win mean an Oscar Best Picture win?  No.  Look at films like The Help (which wasn't anywhere near a Best Picture win), but then again, this is starting to remind me a little of The King's Speech.  Remember when everyone was pretty certain The Social Network was going to sweep through to Oscar, and it won the Globe and BFCA...and then The King's Speech, in one weekend, took PGA, DGA and SAG.  Let's see what happens with the Director's Guild...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

PGA surprise and SAG conundrums...


So, Birdman won PGA last night (and Oscar snubbed Life Itself and The LEGO Movie as well), and this means that Boyhood may not have the straightest shot at the Best Picture win that we all thought it did.  Could this really be a race?  I have to admit, while I have said for a long time that Birdman was #2 in this race, I always meant for nominations and not wins, because I never really saw it as the type of film to win Best Picture.  In fact, I thought The Imitation Game, Selma (well, not anymore) or now American Sniper (with it's bizarre surge of support) had a better shot at snagging the Best Picture win from Boyhood...but could Birdman be a real threat?

And what the hell does this mean for SAG?  I know that Birdman has been doing well with ensemble support, but something tells me that The Grand Budapest Hotel is a serious threat tonight...but now that Birdman has taken PGA...I'm so torn!!!!

We'll find out soon enough!

My Top Ten Cinematic Discoveries of 2014


So, as you all know, I'm slow to seeing all the great movies that come out in any film year.  In fact, I won't be seeing some of the big Oscar contenders until, like, mid-2015, but the incredible Jeffery over at JDBRecords has asked me to contribute an 'end of year' Guest Post, and I couldn't help but oblige.  In fact, despite not having seen films like American Sniper, Selma or Birdman, I've seen so much awesomeness from this year already, and become acquainted with so many names that, until 2014 I'd never heard of, that making this list was a lot of fun.

So, if you're interested in the ten names I've discovered this year, head on over to Jeffery's blog and take a look!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Too much fluff...


I’ve been a fan of Gabriel Iglasias for a long time.  The way he tells a story is really like no other mainstream comedian working today.  He just has this relaxed knack for making his stories so relatable.  When Fluffy talks, it’s as if we’re in his living room, sitting on his couch with our hands in a bowl of potato chips and our attention firmly set on his moving lips.  He just has that effortless quality.

It also doesn’t hurt that his stories are funny.  He has a normal life with an abnormal job, and the two make for some really relatable and inspired stories.

But this just didn’t work for me.

It’s hard to decide how to review a comedy special, because there isn’t a plot, but a collection of stories and jokes, and so without re-telling you every story and joke, it’s hard to truly ‘review’ this.  But I’ll try my hardest.

Everybody jump!


I never saw the television show, ’21 Jump Street’.  It was popular way before I was old enough to care.  My sisters liked it, I think.  When it was announced that the show was getting a big screen adaptation with Tatum and Hill in the leads, I didn’t really care.  Some dumb buddy cop comedy that was going to get slaughtered with the reviews and produce a hand full of belly laughs resulting in a mediocre yet mildly entertaining trip to the movies; that’s what I thought. 

I didn’t expect to pretty much love everything about the film.

Sure, it was stupid, but in a really clever way, and Hill and Tatum were such inspired (and surprisingly so) choices, and their chemistry was undeniable, infectious even.  Hill has always had a knack for developing believable chemistry with his co-stars (whether it be Cera, Pitt or DiCaprio), but there was something so deeply honest about the way he meshed with Tatum that it felt even more real, even more authentic.

I totally believe that these guys are major besties off screen, and that’s all that matters.

How many licks does it take...


Some films know exactly what they are, what they want to say, how they want to say it and how they want you to feel about it, and with all the right intentions in place and all the proper artillery in hand, they do just that; they swoop in with an undeniable identity, speaking their words elegantly and directly, with the right touches of power and inflection and you feel it like a whisper to your heart, because that is exactly where they want you to feel it.

And yet, when all is said and done, you smile and shrug and walk away.

I don’t know what happened here, but despite everything in all the right places and all the right words and all the right moments, ‘Pride’, as a whole, felt nothing more than ‘nice’ to me, and while ‘nice’ is good, I think I wanted more.

Right?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: STATS!!!


Well, Twice a Best Actress is over, so I wanted to throw together a stats page, like I did with Twice a Best Actor, so that we can see how we did overall.  There were more performances this go around (there were only 9 Actors, but 13 Actresses) and so the total points doled out (and opinions about those performances) was much more varied this time.

For the most part, we were a nice bunch, at least when you look at the numbers and the frequency with which we handed out an A of some sort!

Fritz was very nice, handing out a total of 10 A+ grades!
Looks like I was right behind him though, handing out 8 of those A+’s myself.
Kevin was right behind me, doling out 7 A+’s.
Josh handed out the most of any single grade, 11, all A’s.
Sati’s favorite grade was an A (she handed out 7)

And then there was Andrew, who was all over the place, and rarely in the A grade range.  In fact, he handed out 0 A+’s, only 3 A’s and 2 A-’s.  His most common grade was split between two, handing out 5 each of B+ and C-

Oh, and this time I wasn’t the only A-Hole to hand out an F!

Here’s the complete breakdown of grade tallies:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

BFCA Winners and an Awards Tally Page update...

YAY!  Boyhood wins!
I'm obviously trying out sarcasm.

So, I don't know why I didn't post these earlier in the week (or was it last week) when these aired and the winners were crowned, but I've been busy posting other things and I kind of forgot.  I did, however, adjust the Awards Tally Page to reflect ONLY the Oscar nominees, and I did add in the BFCA wins (that mattered) as well as looking up info on the Shorts and the festivals they played at (and won awards at) so that we can get a better handle on those films and their Oscar prospects.

So check all that out if you want.

Oh, yeah, and the BFCA winners are...

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies with Colour in the Title


It's Thursday, which means it's time for another entry in Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks!  This is such a fun exercise, and I really encourage all of my readers to try and participate if you can.  I know a few of you do, and I look forward to your entries every Thursday.  This week was interesting, but I'll get to the reason for that in a second.

The theme of the week is:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The beauty of film is the way it helps us to see life itself…


There are fewer films that I’m as nervous about writing a review for than I am for this beautiful ode to the life and journey of one of the most celebrated and beloved men in the cinematic world; Roger Ebert.  Yes, ‘Life Itself’ is a film so elegantly and yet honestly crafted that I’m nearly at a loss for words at how best to convey what this film means to us as cinephiles and yet I feel compelled to try my hardest to give it justice, since it is that beautifully important.

And yet, when you are reviewing a film about a man who pretty much wrote the greatest reviews of any film critic, there is this element of inferiority that overtakes my fingers.

No matter how many strokes I make, my words will never be as satisfying than had Ebert just penned this review himself.

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…


You know that feeling you get when you know something bad is going to happen.  You don’t always know when it’s going to happen, and you may not even know what exactly it is, but you know that it’s going to happen.  Your stomach drops, your palms get sweaty and every time that someone says “hey, can we talk” you just know; it’s the end.

Now, imagine that you not only knew what that bad thing was, but you knew exactly when it was going to happen.

There is no one as special to me, as the you, you want to be...


Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make the most impact.  They hold us close, comfort our soul and whisper in our ears that they love us.  It’s often these simple things that we take for granted, always reaching for something that feels bigger, bolder and more obviously poignant, and yet it can be within these simple things that we find the biggest, boldest, most poignant impact.

The same can be said for film.  Oftentimes films are convinced that beating us over the head with their views and ‘importance’ is the way to our hearts, or at least to our memories, but sometimes it is that film with a simple message told in a simple manner that contains the most heart and soul, and the one that reaches us deeper than we ever expected it to.

‘We Are the Best!’ is that kind of film.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Blind Spot Series 2015: All About My Mother

I still can't believe that it's 2015, but OMG, it's already near the end of January!  This means it's time to post my Blind Spot entry for the month, which happens to be Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother.

Let's just get on with it!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; my thoughts on the Selma snubs...

You MUST vote for me!  I am IMPORTANT!

I was not planning on writing this post at all.  I posted my thoughts on the Oscar snubs and figured that was that, but then a debate sparked in the comment section about the Selma snubs and the misogyny vs. racism that exists in the Academy, and I went to give my two cents, intended entirely to be just that...two cents...and I wound up writing a dollar or so and the little comment box at the bottom of my post kept telling me that my comment was too long...so here it is (I'm not altering this from my original comment form):

Friday, January 16, 2015

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Katharine Hepburn, Part II


Well, we've reached the end of Twice a Best Actress.  It feels surreal, but this project has drawn to a close and what better way to end things than to review the legendary Katharine Hepburn's final two wins.

Before we do that, I want to give my thanks once again to the incredible panel who gave of their time and sometimes money in order to see and review all of these performances, and for that I am extremely grateful.  This was quite the undertaking.  There were 28 performances to see, some hard to get a hold of, and not all that rewarding to watch, and yet these awesome bloggers plugged along and gave it their all, and for that I thank them VERY much!

It wouldn't have been the same without these guys:

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Drew from A Fistful of Films
Sati from Cinematic Corner

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oscar snubs that took me by surprise...


So, with the Oscar nominations out for the world to see, we’ve been filtering through rant after rant about the snubs and shouts to the high heavens about the surprises, and so I thought I’d weigh in on the snubs that I personally found perplexing.  To be honest, there were a lot of expected nominees that I expected to be snubbed and so their lack of Oscar affections don’t surprise me (I never thought Gyllenhaal would make it, so his snub doesn’t surprise me), but looking at the list I found nine snubs that stick out like sore thumbs, and then just a film in general I’m totally confused about.


In no particular order:

2014 Oscar Nominations (and thoughts)


Well, it’s time to see how we did.  These Oscar noms are…strange, at least some of them are.  We have some major snubs, some out of nowhere noms and some happy nominations we thought we were crazy for predicting.  Let’s take a look at it, bit by bit.

Thursday Movie Picks: Musicals


This week was a week close to my heart.  Yes, it's Thursday, and that means that it's time for another installment of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks, where we choose three films sharing a specific theme.  This week I had a hard time narrowing my list down, because, off the top of my head, I had a list of 30; seriously.  

Any guess as to the theme?

Yes, I know that it's in the post title...

Today we're talking about:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fisti's Final Oscar Predictions for 2014


It’s time.  It’s last minute, sure, but waiting till all the guilds and precursors weigh in is the best way to make that informed decision, right.  It’s time to see if all that work done on my Award’s Tally Page has paid off.  Now, of course even I know that you can’t just use that chart for face value, because a lot of what counts for Oscar noms is passion and the timing of passion, but we can learn a lot from the way that the season has played out, for sure.

So let’s break these down!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

DGA, CAS, VES...and now we can predict the Oscars!

Time to take a break from writing reviews for all the films I failed to write reviews for months ago and bring to you the nominees from the Directors, Audio and Visual Guilds, rounding out pretty much every piece of information we're going to need in order to make some informed predictions for the Oscar nominations coming our way on Thursday morning.


Wes Anderson/The Grand Budapest Hotel
Clint Eastwood/American Sniper
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu/Birdman
Richard Linklater/Boyhood
Morten Tyldum/The Imitation Game

American Sniper is SLAYING with the guilds, and this means a lot for a film that is peaking right as the Oscar voting was underway.  I'm predicting it to overperform in a pretty large way.  Selma is snubbed here, and I have a feeling this is going to be reflected in the way that Oscar has voted as well.  I also think this means the death of Fincher, for this should have been a good get for him (they like him).  Tyldum got a major boost, but I just don't see enough passion for him to transfer over into an Oscar nom.  I really think that we'll see a surprise here...in the shape of Chazelle.


American Sniper
Birdman
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
Unbroken

I predicted an Interstellar snub, since so much hoopla was made about the criticisms of the sound, but big and loud is hard to ignore even if it is distracting, I guess.  Birdman gets a major boost here, and I think it'll ride this into an Oscar nom as well.  I still don't know what to make of Unbroken, like at all.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Maleficent
X-Men: Days of Future Past

My only shock here is the omission of Transformers, which I figured would be stronger right now.  Maybe it gets the snub in the end, or maybe it's the shocking nom we all should have seen coming.

Disney finds a way…


My wife baffles me.  She hates animals.  She has banned them from our home.  She makes us all strip at the door if we’ve been in the home of anyone who owns animals.  She shuts down any conversation about owning them.  When we are at a friend’s home and they own pets she avoids them like the plague, talks about how awful they are and begs our friends to get rid of them.  I know, this should make her a terrible person, right?  But, she’s also quite fascinated by them, and from a distance she adores them.  It’s strange, but she makes our kids watch nature shows every Saturday morning and drags the whole family to those awful IMAX movies that play in our local museum that are basically the most boring depictions of wildlife put to film, with someone like Morgan Freeman explaining every single detail to us; ad-nauseam.  She pleads with us to go to the cinema anytime Disney decides they want to create a fake family of animals to ‘document’ for our enjoyment.  She did it with that ‘Chimpanzee’ movie and I wanted to kill her (my god, that movie was awful) and she did it again with ‘Bears’.

Well, she almost did it.

In fact, the film came out and I refused to suffer in the theater for this movie and so we waited until it was released on DVD.  She kept prodding me every week, “has it come out yet?” and I prayed we’d never find it, and then we did find it and I wound up sleeping through the whole thing.  I needed a nap.  I was exhausted.  The next morning my kids wanted to watch it again, and I was kind of shocked because they usually complain about these kinds of movies despite my wife’s constant insistence that they are wonderful films, and so my interest was slightly piqued to the point where I decided to laze it on the couch with the kids and watch the movie I’d snored through the night before.

Once upon a time, everyone died…


Sometimes a film has the opportunity to decide, within a split moment, what genre path it’s going to take.  ‘The Guest’ is one of those types of movies.  It has everything in its arsenal to be this grand, Blockbuster action flick, and yet it chose to dial all of that down and become this slow burn of a psychological thriller, and for the most part it succeeds because of it.

While watching ‘The Guest’, I couldn’t help but call to mind films like ‘The King’ and ‘A History of Violence’, two films that I feel ‘The Guest’ pulled influence from, both in tone and in construction of prose.  There’s a coolness here though, a real modern flare of tonal effortlessness and undeniable swagger that permeates this film, giving it an air of ‘Drive’ while evoking the great works of Jean-Pierre Melville (if you aren’t familiar with his exceptional contribution to French cinema, Google him now).  ‘The Guest’ doesn’t hit every mark, mostly due to a few script issues, but so much of this works that it almost doesn’t matter.

And MY GOD, Dan Stevens is incredible here (but more on that in a minute).

When the lights go down…


We live in a world where celebrities are at our fingertips at all times.  We can, if we wanted to, know where they ate for lunch, what they had, what they threw away, what books they’re reading, what brand of dog food they feed the pooch that sleeps in their purses.  The list goes on and on.  We have people who are paid to exploit all of their secrets, all of their movements.  We don’t even care what our own kids eat for lunch, leaving the school cafeteria to give them whatever they deem fit, but if we can find out what flavor fruit smoothie Katy Perry likes to cleanse herself with, then we’re on it.  We hear celebrities talk and balk about how this pressure and this insistent exploitation of their basic human right for privacy is draining, emotionally, and we even see the aftermath in some celebrities, with rehab trips, psychological breakdowns and even early death.  It’s a really serious issue, but one that will never go away because greed runs this country, and a celebrity is always worth something, dead or alive.

Full walrus, indeed...


You know that point in a movie where you’re sitting there and everything you expected to happen doesn’t happen but something else, something so awfully unexpected takes place, and it just completely warps everything you thought you were about to see into something either awfully distasteful or completely glorious?

‘Tusk’ is that moment.

I have to say that my initial expectations for this film were pretty low.  I had heard that it was awful by so many people, but it was Kevin Smith, and he can hit when he wants to, and it was one of those films to embrace the new fat Haley Joel Osment, and I’m all some of that, so I was willing to bite.  The poster art is GORGEOUS (maybe my favorite of the whole year), and the black comedy ‘spookiness’ of the premise made me think that this would be one of those glossy teen supernatural monster in the night slasher flicks with some sophisticated humor.

It’s none of those things.

Ice, ice, baby...


You know that character that exists in the realm of any movie merely to make you laugh from time to time.  They have minimal sub-plots, the entirety of the film itself never hinges on their existence because, well, they aren’t main characters, and if the screenwriters decided last minute to take them out of the film entirely we still wouldn’t lose to important aspects of the film.  In other words, they don’t matter, but we’re so happy they’re around.  Think those Minion creatures from ‘Despicable Me’ or the Penguins from ‘Madagascar’ or that funny looking prehistoric squirrel from ‘Ice Age’.  These are troublemaking little beasts who have found a place in our hearts, but they make no difference to the overall progression of the films they embody.  Sure, their absence would deaden the enjoyment, but the film could get on without them.

I mention all of this because so often we find ourselves celebrating these little creatures, loving them and even championing them for their own films.  GIVE THEM THEIR OWN MOVIE!  THEY’RE HILARIOUS!  But what we never take into consideration is that, for the most part, these creatures are supporting players for a reason; they have no real depth and can’t carry an entire plot, and so when some of these characters have been given their moments to shine, whether with their very own movie or with a short lived television series, it fizzled.

We hated it.

What is a father?


Some films hit you in unexpected ways.  Sometimes you watch a film, and it’s the unexpected aspect of it, that moment that takes you by surprise, that you walk away with and carry with you and hold tightly, so tightly that it becomes a part of you.  While watching ‘Like Father, Like Son’, I found myself taking it in, deep.

I’m partial to heartbreaking family dramas.  I’ve said this many times.  I like films that feature families in situations that cause conflict or conundrums of emotions and wind up leaving me a sobbing mess.  I feel like I need that, because it is in those moments where we see the darker aspects of our own lives, beings, thoughts, desires and we can better ourselves.  I know that many people seek out films as a form of escape, but I steadily look for films that feature parts of me, that explain parts of me.

I just want to say that if anything happened to my wife and I like that of which happens to the characters in this film, there would be bodies.

Walking for so long to get nowhere…


I kind of love how Lasse Hallstrom has this reputation in Hollywood as being kind of, well, cloying.  His name pops up and a lot of my cinephile friends scoff and groan about how bad this movie is going to be.  While I’ve never found his films truly awful, I can get understand the feelings of my friends, simply because his filmography is cluttered with films that feel like dumbed down Oscar bait.  There is never really anything truly challenging about his films.  ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ is earnest when necessary, but otherwise stagnant.  ‘The Cider House Rules’ is almost too glossy for its own good.  ‘Chocolat’ is just kind of silly, pretty and entertaining, but silly.  ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ was touching but forgettable and then he went all Nicholas Sparks (TWICE) and I found myself wondering what exactly happened to him.  Was he even trying anymore?

And this is the guy who, back in 1987, delivered one of my FAVORITE movies of all time; ‘My Life as a Dog’.  Where is THAT guy?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Golden Globe Winners!


This has really been one of those mornings.  I composed this entire post under the name 'BAFTA Winners' and was getting more and more agitated that I could not find a single picture of Julianne Moore holding a BAFTA and I'm like "I SAW HER WIN IT LAST NIGHT" and then I realized that last night were the Globes and a simple change in my Google search gave me what I needed.

What I need is another anxiety pill and a nap.

So, last night I wanted really badly to live chat the whole awards, but dinner and game time and kids who did not want to go to sleep wound up making me hit pause way more than I wanted to.  Still, I did pretty good with predictions (I didn't post them here, but I had them posted over at AwardsWatch).  The only two categories I missed outright were Foreign Film and Animated Movie.  

Feast your eyes on these winners:

Friday, January 9, 2015

BAFTA nominations (and some Oscar thoughts)...


We're almost there, to Oscar nomination morning.  BAFTA nominations mark the near close of the pre-Oscar awards season and one of the last notches in every potential nominees belt, so we're almost ready to post our final Oscar predictions (which I'll post next Wednesday).  We only have CAS and DGA left to announce (on Tuesday) and then we'll pretty much have everything we need to pretend like we know what Oscar is going to nominate.

LOL.

So, let's take a look at the BAFTA nominations and see what we can pull from these to better understand (or further complicate) what Oscar is going to go nuts over come Thursday morning.

Twice a Best Actress Bloggers Roundtable: Vivien Leigh


Yup, it's that day of the week...Twice a Best Actress Day!!!  I can't believe that we're almost done with this whole project.  Only one more week.  Yup, we close things out next Friday with Katherine Hepburn's second pair of wins.  I have loved every minute of this experience and am sad to see it come to a close, but all good things must end.

So let's talk Vivien Leigh!

Here's the panel:

Andrew from The Films the Thing
Drew from A Fistful of Films
Sati from Cinematic Corner

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Make-up & Hair Guild


Contemporary Make-Up
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Gone Girl
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
Nightcrawler

Period/Character Make-Up
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1
Into the Woods
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken

Special Make-Up Effects
Foxcatcher
Guardians of the Galaxy
Into the Woods
Maleficent
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Contemporary Hair Styling
Birdman
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
St. Vincent
Winter's Tale

Period/Character Hair Styling
Get on Up
Into the Woods
Selma
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything

Scripter Awards Nominees


*These awards honor adapted screenplays and the source material.

Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Wild

Iowa, Denver & Oklahoma name their favorites...


Best Film - Boyhood (runners-up, Birdman and Imitation Game)

Best Director - Richard Linklater (runners-up, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, David Fincher)

Best Actor - Micheal Keaton (runners-up, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch)

Best Actress - Reese Witherspoon (runners-up, Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike)

Best Supporting Actor - JK Simmons (runners-up, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton) 

Best Supporting Actress - Patricia Arquette (runners-up, Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton)

Best Score - Birdman (runners-up, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game) 

Best Animated Film - The Lego Movie (runners-up, Big Hero 6, How To Train Your Dragon 2)

Best Original Song - Everything is Awesome (runners-up, Lost Stars, Glory) 

Best Movie Yet To Open in Iowa - A Most Violent Year and American Sniper (tie) 


Best Picture:


* “Birdman”
* “Boyhood”
* “Whiplash”
* “Inherent Vice”
* “American Sniper”



Best Director:



* Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
* Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
* Christopher Nolan, “Interstellar”
* Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”
* Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper”



Best Actor:



* Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
* Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
* Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
* Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
* Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”



Best Actress:



* Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
* Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
* Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
* Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin”
* Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”



Best Supporting Actor:



* Edward Norton, “Birdman”
* Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
* J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
* Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
* Josh Brolin, “Inherent Vice”



Best Supporting Actress:



* Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
* Emma Stone, “Birdman”
* Rene Russo, “Nightcrawler”
* Sienna Miller, “American Sniper””
* Katherine Waterston, “Inherent Vice”



Best Animated Film:



* “The Lego Movie”
* “Big Hero 6“
* “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
* “The Boxtrolls”
* “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”



Best Science Fiction/Horror Film:



* “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
* “The Babadook”
* “Interstellar”
* “Under the Skin”
* “Edge of Tomorrow”



Best Comedy:



* “22 Jump Street”
* “Guardians of the Galaxy”
* “Neighbors”
* “Top 5”
* “The Grand Budapest Hotel”



Best Original Screenplay:



* Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, “Birdman”
* Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
* Wes Anderson, Hugo Guiness, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
* Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”
* Jeremy Saulnier, “Blue Ruin”



Best Adapted Screenplay:



* Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”
* Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”
* Anthony McCarten, “The Theory of Everything”
* Nick Hornby, “Wild”
* Jason Hall, “American Sniper”



Best Documentary:



* “Life Itself”
* “The Overnighters”
* “Citizenfour”
* “Keep on Keepin’ On”
* “Jodorowsky’s Dune”



Best Cinematography:



* Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”
* Benoit Delhomme, “The Theory of Everything”
* Hoyte Van Hoytema, “Interstellar”
* Daniel Landin, “Under the Skin”
* Tom Stern, “American Sniper”



Best Original Song:



* “Everything Is Awesome, “The LEGO Movie”
* “Lost Stars,” “Begin Again”
* “The Last Goodbye,” “The Hobbit” The Battle of the Five Armies”
* “Glory,” “Selma”
* “Ordinary Human,” “The Giver”



Best Score:



* “The Theory of Everything”
* “Birdman”
* “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
* “Under the Skin”
* “Inherent Vice”



Best Foreign Language Film:



* “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”
* “Ida”
* “Two Days, One Night”
* “Force Majeure”
* “Winter Sleep”


Best Picture

Boyhood

Top Ten

Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Whiplash
Gone Girl
Nightcrawler
The Imitation Game
The LEGO Movie
A Most Violent Year
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Actor – Michael Keaton, Birdman
Best Actress – Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Best Animated Film – The LEGO Movie
Best Body of Work – Chris Miller & Phil Lord – The LEGO Movie & 22 Jump Street
Best Director – Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Best Documentary – Life Itself
Best First Feature – Nightcrawler
Best Foreign Language Film – Force Majeure
Best Guilty Pleasure – Edge of Tomorrow
Not So Obviously Worst Film – The Monuments Men
Obviously Worst Film – Transformers: Age of Extinction
Best Original Screenplay – Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Adapted Screenplay – Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Best Supporting Actor – Edward Norton, Birdman
Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood