Thursday, December 31, 2009
So in other words there really isn't anything like it. I'd like to see what amazing feat the director of The Dark Knight can make when he access' his sole intellect and imagination to create a story based on no previous concepts. It's something new that could jump-start a new era of young directors into making intriguing, complex, and logical films that have reason behind their madness. Here's hoping Inception doesn't suck. Follow the link for the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT2vXyDkwQs
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Also please leave me comments on what you think because I do read them and I do find them insightful.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Second half of my list begins with the film that rejuvenated the summer movie season after the attrocious G.I. Joe. District 9 was a shining reminder of what a summer action film can be if they pay attention to the story first and foremost. District 9 has substance, emotion, logic, action, political allegory... Oh, and aliens. That's more or less the formula for a great movie. Based on the trailers District 9 looked like one of two things. It was either going to be a boring 2 hour fake documentary on the politics of this alien slum, or it was going to be another senseless action riot. Now we can say it was both, minus the boring, and minus the senseless riot. District 9 doesn't have you completely bored with the film until the last 40 minutes of the film. It's controvercial in how the aliens are treated by us humans. Like the movie Avatar, the aliens are at our mercy, but unlike the movie Avatar they are on our turf, and they are the ones with the high tech weapons. When you are frightened into a state in which you are too afraid to use your super-alien-laser-gun that could kill dozens of the people who are abusing you then you know that something is seriously wrong. The thing is that there are a million and a half of them, and we have atomic bombs. Chances are we would probably go that far. Sharlto Copley is the real star of the film as the man in charge of movie the aliens out of District 9 and into a smaller and worse concentration camp at District 10. He really goes through such a change emotionally throughout the film. He is at first apathetic to these prawns and is willing for them to die if necessary, but when he's the one pointing the gun he really sees the injustice of what they are doing. Ultimately we are left with many questions, and the beauty of action films such as this is that they will make a sequel.
Quentin Tarantino has made his cinematic masterpiece in the form of Inglourious Basterds. Ever since his previous Best Picture nominee Pulp Fiction came out he has brought us many amazing modern cinema classics like Kill Bill and.... the other Kill Bill movie. However now he has taken the best aspects of his past films and blended them into one kick-ass film whose premise is surprisingly simple and easy to remember, a first for Tarantino. This film is a straight story with no real side plots or goals. It is simply about two seperate attempts to kill the Nazi High Command. Most interestingly, the key to the success of the two plans comes in the form of their greatest enemy, Han Landa played in a groundbreaking performance by Christoph Waltz who is destined for an Oscar for his role. Tarantino's goal in this film, unlike most of his other films, is not to kill a ton of people in style. He does that but it's not the main focus of his work. Much of the film exists to create the most extreme tension ever felt in a movie. It's not the loud chaos of the battleground. It's the calm silence before the guns go off. Tarantino drags his scenes out just long enough to create that certain mist of fear, and maybe a little more so. But when the guns go off it is a feat of pure movie magic which Quentin has captured. Several powerful performances can be found in this film, because Quentin isn't really known for having simplistic characters. Avatar would've probably been the best movie ever if it were written by Tarantino.
Yeah, there's still more. I'll be back tomorrow with my best film of the year. I'll give you a hint. It begins with a U.
Friday, December 25, 2009
10.Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
You may be doing a double take on this, or reuploading the page because there's got to be some sort of mistake, but alas no, you are not misreading this. I've got this in my top ten simply because it was one of the most enjoyable movies of the year. Personally I did not enjoy the first Transformers movie. I found the humor just distracting and it had so much promise to being on a level of epic. I came down from those delusions quickly. After seeing the first trailer for this film I didn't think it was going to suck. I knew it was going to suck. I was in the point of mind where there was nothing that could redeem it for me. But something did. Michael Bay successfully parodied his own film without getting rid of the key things that will get an audience for the film. It was everything I wanted from a dumb action film, and nothing that I didn't want from a dumb action film. They stuffed in a whole lot of sexual innuendos, and drug references that I just couldn't stop laughing, and the action was just amazing. I didn't see it on an Imax screen but I kind of wish I had because it would've been simply majestic. This was possibly the second best Live-Action comedy of the year. It didn't take itself too seriously, and it knew what it was trying to be. If you are a member of the 1% of America who didn't see this movie, you just gotta see it.
9.Where the Wild Things Are
I didn't know how Spike Jonze was going to pull this off but he did. He made a film that maintained the spirt of the beloved childrens book and actually captured the raw spirit of childhood. It wasn't all happy-go-lucky like Shorts. It was a portrait of what it was like when we were kids. It's still the real world that we live in, but it inserts a few fantasy elements into it and sees how they stand up in our world. The acting is simply superb, and thanks to Jonze's use of live puppets there isn't a moment when the wild things don't feel real, so in total you actually feel and empathize with these characters. Max is the center of this fantasy world, and he is somebody who you feel sorry for throughout this entire film and you are genuinely concerned for his life in certain parts of this film. The fact that a childrens film can still do that in this day and age is amazing and I hope it's something that stays with us.
8.Drag Me to Hell
This spot could've gone to Paranormal Activity, which was very creepy and did successfully make you think twice about going to sleep that night, but Drag Me to Hell was just so much more than that. Sam Raimi showed us once more that he can indeed still make a good and scary movie. The cheesy effects don't hinder the film at all. In fact they somewhat heighten the experience. This film is campy, funny, and frightening and can definitely make you reconsider ever doing anything mean ever again. This is the type of film that I think should be required viewing for kids in Christian Elementary Schools, because after seeing it they will never want to sin ever again. This is the type of film that if fed to people at a young age, could bring the world to its knees. Christianity would easily be able to enslave the world with this movie. That is how effective it is. But don't take this to mean that you should in any way take this film seriously. To say that this film is or will ever be serious is to say that Terri Schuester on GLEE ever had a baby inside her. The beauty of this film is that it isn't a film that you are too afraid to see. It's a film that's so scary that you have to see it and you can make it through the entire film because of all the humour in it. At it's best times it is hillarious and scary at the same time, and that is something it should be applauded for.
Just when we thought the zombie genre had been drained of all its originality... well it wasn't, and it's safe to say that it still isn't and there is room for more. Where Drag Me to Hell went more of the Horror route, Zombieland goes for comedy while laying in a few scares amongst them. The script isn't what makes it amazing. The script could so easily have been coal, but the four main actors of the film (and the celebrity cameo obviously) do a genuine jesus-christ miracle and turn it into gold. Woody Harrelson especially is worthy of praise for his work here. He came in very late in the year but has been continually wowing us with his performances, even in such trash as 2012, or such art-house works as The Messenger. First time director Ruben Fleischer seems to understand this script all the way through to its core and knows just the right nerves to hit. The comedy, the horror, and the emotion shine through the screen. He sets up a family who we really will follow wherever they go. The fact that the finale begins and ends just as you'd expect, and keeps us interested all the way through is proof of that. With a sequel slowly underway, being filmed in 3D, I think this is just a taste of what we can expect from the future.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
-The Hurt Locker
-Up in the Air
That now leaves 4 slots on the list that still need to be filled, thanks to the academy increasing the number of nominees to ten. First of all I've decided to give in to the pressure and add A Serious Man to the list, seeing as it is now one of the best of the year, but still unlikely to take home many awards. And now seems like an appropriate time to add Star Trek to the list because it is frankly too good to pass up. With two slots left I've got to add in Avatar for now, because even though no good reviews have surfaced, no bad reviews have surfaced either, and that cloud of mystery is at the moment its greatest weapon. And now with one slot left it feels only right to put in yet another film about aliens, District 9 which despite its flaws is still an original action film with a unique form of storytelling. So below are the films that have been newly added to the list.
-A Serious Man
Monday, December 7, 2009
Best Film: Up in the Air
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Best Actor: George Clooney for Up in the Air
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan for An Education
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique for Precious
Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air
Best Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds
Best Breakthrough Performance: Gabourey Sidibe for Precious
Best Ensemble Cast: The Hurt Locker
Best Animated Film: Up
Best Foreign Film: Sin Nombre
Best Documentary: Food, Inc.
Best Art Direction: Nine
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
-Speaking of such big films, as James Camerons mega-epic Avatar has been slowly approaching the response has been getting better and better. With some convincing Featurettes they have eased our fears of it being just a silly animated film, by explaining the concept of motion capture to the 60% of the world who are extremely stupid, and with some minute and a half clips we can now actually buy into these characters. Once reviews start coming out we will get a good grasp on how things have been handled. Also the theme song for the film I See You sung by Leona Lewis has made it to youtube so take a look at that. To me it seems just a heartbeat away from My Heart Will Go On but it stays of rhythm just enough to keep it fresh.
-The National Board of Review has announced its winners and a couple of notable points are the absense of Nine and The Lovely Bones, reaffirming that it's probably not happening for those films. The biggest surprise however is that Precious is gone from the list entirely (Aside from Gabourney Sidibe for Breakthrough Actress). This may be a bad thing for its chances at best picture. Up in the Air came out on top with the best picture prize, putting it in the upper categories for the Oscars. For the full list of winner go here: http://oscar-watch.ew.com/2009/12/03/wins-national-board-of-review/
-Finally, after all this time we have... 56 seconds of footage from the likely 5 hour final installment in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. How could we live through these long months without this new teaser. It arrived online in bootleg form today, and it will probably be back online in higher definition as soon as it is actually released on the Half-Blood Prince DVD this tuesday. It really looks like quite something and I'm going to go out on a far out limb here and say that it will be the best film in the series, hands down. Can't wait! Look for it on youtube if it's still up there.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Kirk Honeycutt from The Hollywood Reporter says "Nothing speaks so dramatically about Clint Eastwood's recent and remarkable burst of creativity as a director of awards-worthy films than the appearance of "Invictus," a historical drama that few if any filmmakers could have launched within the studio system. Here is a movie about Nelson Mandela, South Africa after apartheid and, of all things, the sport of rugby. None is high on any list of topics that studio suits crave, which tend more toward vampires and superheroes. Even the title -- that of a Victoria-era poem -- is obscure."
Todd McCarthy from Variety says "Directed by Eastwood with straightforward confidence, the film is marbled with innumerable instances of Mandela disarming his presumed opponents while giving pause to those among his natural constituency who might be looking for some payback rather than intelligent restraint. Freeman, a beautiful fit for the part even if he doesn't go all the way with the accent, takes a little while to shake off the man's saintlike image, and admittedly, the role of such a hallowed contemporary figure does not invite too much complexity, inner exploration or actorly elaboration. That said, Freeman is a constant delight; gradually, one comes to grasp Mandela's political calculations, certitudes and risks, the troubled personal life he keeps mostly out of sight, and his extraordinary talent for bringing people around to his point of view."
The cloud of mystery surrounding highly buzzed about Oscar films is beginning to clear with some disappointing, but some inspirational results. The last two major contenders not to be released for review by the press are Nine and Avatar. With cautious optimism I hope that they are worth our time.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Todd McCarthy from Variety says "...the massive success Jackson has enjoyed in the intervening years with his CGI-heavy 'The Lord of the Rings' saga and 'King Kong' has infected the way he approaches this far more intimate tale. Instead of having the late Susie Salmon occupy a little perch in an abstract heavenly gazebo from which she can peer down upon her family and anyone else -- all that is really necessary from a narrative point of view -- the director has indulged his whims to create constantly shifting backdrops depicting an afterlife evocative of 'The Sound of Music' or 'The Wizard of Oz' one moment, 'The Little Prince' or 'Teletubbies' the next."
Richard Corliss from Time Magazine says "The plot has a few pitfalls. Jack, who fingers dozens of men as Susie's potential abductor, takes ages to notice the strange guy across the street. And Abigail departs and reappears with little organic reason. But the movie is packed with privileged moments, like Susie's glimpse, from the in-between, of her younger sister's first kiss — an ecstasy Susie was so close to experiencing before she entered Mr. Harvey's lair."
Baz Bamigboye from Daily Mail (UK) says "There are no gentle touches in The Lovely Bones, and, believe me, a story such as this needs to be handled with care. Jackson cuts out a vital storyline involving Susie's mother (Rachel Weisz) and an affair she has with the policeman who is trying to find out what happened to her daughter.
That last review really got me frightened. One of my favorite things from the book was Mrs. Salmons affair with Lennerman. It really gave more depth to the story and to the characters. Now knowing that that part is not going to be in the film I am so much less excited, and these reviews don't cushion the blow. I'm in as much horror now as when I was reading the rape scene from the novel. True, I try not to listen to the critics on everything (They certainly were off when reviewing Speed Racer), but they are what people go by when predicting what films will get nominated for Best Picture. Example: A film like Transformers 2 wouldn't be nominated for best picture, nor would films like G.I. Joe, or The Reader. Wait a minute....
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
* "The Cat Piano," Eddie White and Ari Gibson, directors (The People's Republic of Animation)
* "French Roast," Fabrice O. Joubert, director (Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films)
* "Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty," Nicky Phelan, director, and Darragh O'Connell, producer (Brown Bag Films)
* "The Kinematograph," Tomek Baginski, director-producer (Platige Image)
* "The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)," Javier Recio Gracia, director (Kandor Graphics and Green Moon)
* "Logorama," Nicolas Schmerkin, producer (Autour de Minuit)
* "A Matter of Loaf and Death," Nick Park, director (Aardman Animations Ltd.)
* "Partly Cloudy," Peter Sohn, director (Pixar Animation Studios)
* "Runaway," Cordell Barker, director (National Film Board of Canada)
* "Variete," Roelof van den Bergh, director (il Luster Productions)
Now assuming that one of these unknown films won't come and snatch away the prize, I'd have to go with Park's "Matter of Loaf and Death" because Wallace and Gromit have won many times in the past before and are bound to do it again. I love Pixar always, and Partly Cloudy is no exception, but I have a special place in my heart for stop motion animation films. I made one of them in my film production class last year. You can see it on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPUIUQgwrjA
Forgive the awful quality.
Monday, November 16, 2009
3)Washington Washes Away
The best of the mini-disaster sequences that don't last more than two minutes, this one is just so symbolic. Seeing Danny Glover finish the bible reading he wasn't able to in the broadcast as the USS John F. Kennedy rides on a wave to squash out the white house, is just one of the biggest and best contradictions in a single scene, when there seems to be no hope, one man has hope. And he's the fucking president in 2012! (Obvious Answer Alert!) Who is going to be president in 2012?
2) San Francisco Goes Down
Even people who didn't end up going to see the film opening weekend saw most of this sequence with the exception of a few frames, thanks to the broadcast of the scene. Still if there was anything that would lock an audience into going to see a movie it would be this scene. It rather gleefully despenses with 7 million people in spectacular fashion. The friend I went to see it with turned to me during this sequence and said "This is the least tense action sequence ever". It truly is, because we don't no anybody in San Francisco except the people who make it out alive, and we know that they're all going to make it out alive, because lets face it, it's a Roland Emmerich film. Even if we didn't know they'd be alright, we still would care about the characters. We only really care about the shit blowing up. That's pretty much the reason most of us went to the movie in the first place.
This scene was truly awesome in its entirety. As soon as Jackson found Charlie at the ridge of Yellowstone we all knew that some serious shit was about to go down. Woody Harrelson's character was the only one I really cared about because he was so awesome and had it all figured out (Unlike every other character in the movie), and boy did he go out with a bang. The rest of the sequence was Jackson and his daughter trying to make their way back to the plane. It was pretty awesome but not truly thrilling until right at the end. The final rush of the sequence alone was worth the price of admission. If for nothing else, go to the movie to see this scene.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I know that it's hard to grasp that an animated childrens film could possibly be nominated for Best Picture, but if you think about it it's not all that out of the ordinary. Last year WALL-E was close to getting nominated and that was when amount of nominees was 5. Now that there are 10 nominees Up is almost certain to get in. Why? For one thing it deals with some dark themes like death, and depression and it deals with them in a realistic manner that is truly sad and can be related to real life. And even if that isn't taken into account Up is still the best film of the year. Even watching it on the tiny screen of my portable DVD player I was filled with all the intense emotions I got in the theatre, and more. Up is the type of movie you can watch again and again and get more out of it. For instance, during my third time seeing it I realized a rather tucked away but still huge character development of Russell. During the final battle when Russell is dangling from hose on Carl's house he musters the strength to pull himself all the way to the porch, having been inspired by Mr. Fredrickson. Rather unremarkable, but only if you forget that he could drag himself up to the porch when he and Carl first reached Paradise Falls. It was truly much more inspiring knowing that knowledge.
The thing about Up that seperates it from other Pixar masterpieces is that it carries you on the emotional journey of all the characters throughout the entire film. One of my big problems with WALL-E is that during the first half of the movie you aren't thinking about WALL-E and EVE, but about where the hell the human race went, and during the second half when the destiny of the human race rests in the balance you don't care. You only care about WALL-E and EVE being together again. Up brings you in to every emotional state that all the characters are in. You can feel Carl Fredrickson's sadness when Ellie dies, and his emptiness when he finally gets his house to Paradise Falls. You feel Russell's sadness at his father practically adandoning him, and his anger when Mr. Fredrickson fails him. Even in the case of Dug, you can feel the simple emotions he feels and care about him considerably.
With ten nominations this year, the floodgate is certainly open for films like Up to make it in. I dare anybody to find a film from this year that is more emotionally poignant than Up.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
-The Hurt Locker
-The Lovely Bones
-A Single Man
-Up in the Air
Avatar Trailer: I know it's just a trailer, but this was a turning point in the marketing of the new Avatar film. Since it there have been many extended tv spots, and advertising campaigns, most of which have been mostly successful. The look of this trailer is significantly better than the teaser trailer and gives more of the actual plot. Great acting, interesting visual effects, and the added 3D factor could earn this film quite an audience. I was somewhat worried that the dialogue would be a decade old and somewhat corny, which it kind of is but with the right delivery and execution it could still be a passably alright movie. Just don't expect too much from it. My Grade: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Michael Jackson's This is it: It's still out. There is still time for you to see it. Is it the definitive concert film of a lifetime? No. Is it a huge go-out-with-a-bang final tribute to Jackson? No, and Director Kenny Ortega should be commended for that. He didn't try to make the concert something it wasn't meant to be. It was meant to be an enjoyable 2 hour performance that ties in a moral wake up call that we all need to hear. I'm not going to spoil it for anybody, but everybody needs to see this film, or at least the last half hour of it. It has a message that could change the world. The rest of the film is still a worthy look into the friendships MJ made during the practices, and the meaning of the music to him. My Grade: 3.5 out of 4 stars.
The Men Who Stare at Goats: Of all the films that came out the first weekend of November, the only one I wanted to see was the new George Clooney film. It looked like a genuinely fun and funny film and it ultimately was. It's certainly not a best picture calibur film or even an Airplane calibur parody. The worst thing about this film was the director. That can usually kill a film but thanks to a laugh filled script, and well contained, nutty performances from Jeff Bridges and especially George Clooney, this film was able to achieve that status of Worth Seeing. My Grade: 3 out of 4 stars.
Check back around noon tomorrow for my review of 2012.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
What do you think? Will MJ's final performance prove defining, or will you walk out asking "Is that it?"
Monday, October 5, 2009
Long Shots: Stanley Tucci for Supporting Actor, Amy Adams for Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Picture
Best Bets: Meryl Streep for Actress
District 9- This film came completely out of left field (left field being Comic Con) and caught a huge audience considering how low profile it was up until a few weeks before the release. The critics absolutely adored it, considering it a possible nominee for best picture. That died quickly, but the praise still stands leaving the overhanging presence of it in the Oscar race.
Long Shots: Film Editing, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sharlto Copley for Actor, Original Screenplay, Director Neil Blomkamp
Possibilities: Makeup, Picture
Ponyo- Hayao Miyazaki's scratchless track record continues with this simple and kid friendly film that still delivers the goods to Miyazaki fans. While being light and fanciful, this film keeps with the theme of none of the characters being truly good or truly evil, but still human and flawed.
Best Bets: Animated Feature
Inglourious Basterds- This was really the last big hit of the summer. Expectations were lowered after less than great reception from Cannes. Considerable change to the film has obviously been since then since the final product is freakin' awesome. With some great performances, and expert as usual scripting and directing by Quentin Tarantino, this film is bound to be at least an outside player this Oscar season.
Best Bets: Christoph Waltz (Best Supporting Actor)
Possibles: Picture, Melanie Laurent (Best Supporting Actress), Director, Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Film Editing
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Long Shots: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Possibilities: Cinematography, Johnny Depp for Best Actor
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- Harry Potter has reentered the Oscar arena with this new film. By reentered the Oscar arena I don't mean that this film is going to win any Oscars. I mean that it sets up for the final film (in two parts) to dazzle and win. Half-Blood Prince is a very different and much better film than Order of the Phoenix. I'd be willing to call it the best Potter film yet if it weren't for Goblet of Fire (Prisoner of Azkaban didn't really appeal to me as best of the series). As it is though, I'd say it's a close tie. There were several detractors from this film: Too long, too much romance, Not enough action, Really a set up for the final film, but if it really is then the final film guaranteed won't disappoint.
Long Shots: Visual Effects
Possibilities: Original Score
Best Bets: Art Direction, Cinematography, Best Makeup
Possibilities: Sound Editing
Best Bets: Sound Mixing, Visual Effects
The Hurt Locker- I caught this film as soon as I turned 17 and was, sorry to say, underwhelmed. There were a few pleasant surprise cameos by Guy Pierce, and Ralph Fiennes, but I had heard absolute raves about this film before it's release that the film did not live up to. I thought the main character was in all honesty a fool without any real character change, and really simply played. There was the required black guy of course, and there was the somewhat sensitive kid who was the only one with any real emotional arc. The film played out just as I expected it would, and at the end I thought "The Hurt Locker 2?" Not on my time or money. All the same, the resounding praise will get it numerous nominations, but the hype will have all but died by the time award season rolls by.
Long Shots: Anthony Mackie for Supporting actor
Possibilities: Jeremy Renner for lead actor, Sound Editing
Best Bets: Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Film Editing