Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My "American" Review NOT Coming Soon

So, since I last announced that I was headed to college, you've probably been wondering where I went. Well, since I moved in about a week ago, I've come to realize that I'm in hell. That's probably putting it a little harshly, as I've been having a pretty good time, but it's hot everyday, and none of the local theaters are playing The American. I suppose I'm just one of the people who have faced this predicament, but as a result, I will most likely not be able to see or review the film in the near future. It's a setback, and a disappointing one. I apologize for this problem, and I'll be sure to get you a review of Machete as soon as I see it. It's a close second to The American. In the mean time, take another look at my 3 to see for September. You might find that one or two things are a little different.

Theatrical Trailer: Beautiful Boy

Despite a rough opening, I found myself charmed by this trailer for Beautiful Boy. It looks like an interesting and activating drama which we don't often get. Will it be that? Probably not, but I'm staying optimistic. Then again, where's optimism gotten me in the past? Check out the trailer below, and let me know what you think.

Potter Watch (18 of 77): The Director's Chair: Alfonso Cuaron

Two installments into the film series based on the beloved Harry Potter books, this really felt like we were going to be wasting the next ten years of our lives on these films, without being rewarded for our patience. Alfonso Cuaron being brought on to direct Prisoner of Azkaban is largely referred to as the turning point of the franchise, when the films took on a higher quality that made them more accessible to adult audiences, who were only familiar with the series through their kids involvement. Whenever people talk about how the films have been continuously getting darker, credit Cuaron with that accomplishment.

With the production on the first two films mostly rushed, Alfonso Cuaron took an 18 month cycle to get his film finished. While it required fans to hold on a little longer, it also allowed the films to get the advanced attention they needed. Though Guillermo Del Toro was initially approached to direct the films, he turned it down, feeling that the franchise was "too bright and happy and full of light." It deserves a bit of a chuckle given the direction Cuaron pointed the series in. Alfonso had not read the books before being offered the job, but after reading them, he found that he connected with them immediately.

Cuarons was the first film to deviate from certain plot points of the books, another decision that would play out in the following installments. Nobody ever imagined that the films could be different from the books. What a huge bound! It worked out in the end, as Alfonso brought an artists hand to the table, giving the film a visual life that's difficult to accomplish. I still can't quite figure out how he achieved some of those shots. It's kind of sad that Alfonso Cuaron didn't stay on to direct any more films, but I suppose that if he had, we would not have been graced with
Children of Men.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Too Quiet Out There?: The American

Alright, it seems like an easy bet to say that The American won't be grabbing a hell of a lot of nominations this Oscar season, because we haven't heard many reviews breach the internet. It's maddening for someone like me, who likes to know what people think of a movie before he goes and sees it. You could go and say that I let other people decide what I do for me, but quite often I find myself disagreeing with the critical majority on some matters. I think that Taylor Lautner is the best actor in The Twilight Saga. It's not saying much, but it's saying something.

Either way, I find it a little disturbing that we have gotten any credible opinion on this film. Most films that don't allow a press screening before the release have good reason to do so. That reason being, they don't quite have faith in their project. They want big audiences to get out there before word leaks out on the quality of the film. I'd understand that for a bigger release, but not The American. This film has had little to no marketing going for it. There have been two teaser trailers and a few TV spots, but that doesn't bode well for the thriller's success.

This is a very dangerous grave to dig oneself into, especially if the film isn't good in the first place. So I'm remaining skeptical of this project until I see it on Wednesday. I really do hope that this film is spectacular, as it's the film this month that I'm most anticipating. I'm just bracing myself for something unexpected.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Box Office Update: Well Aint That Just Dandy?

10. Piranha 3D (Second Weekend; $4.3 million): The Weinstein Company continues to prove themselves utterly incompetent, so far as not knowing that it's a better idea not to greenlight a sequel to a film that's been performing poorly.

9. The Switch (Second Weekend; $4.6 million): Add another Jason Bateman comedy to the list of films that disappointed at the box-office, because this movie's a dud.

8. Nanny McPhee Returns (Second Weekend; $4.7 million): For that matter, put it on record that people don't have the same soft spot they do for candy colored kids films.

7. Inception (Seventh Weekend; $5.1 million): It appears that people do enjoy the Christopher Nolan brand of challenging cinema, leading this film to gargantuan sales.

6. Vampires Suck (Second Weekend; $5.3 million): People came and saw, and now they're done with this film. Enough said.

5. The Other Guys (Fourth Weekend; $6.6 million):How this film has been a staying power for weeks, I have no idea. Leave it to an Adam McKay film to completely ignore logic.

4. Eat Pray Love (Third Weekend; $7 million): Well into it's third weekend, the romantic-drama continues to draw female-oriented audiences.

3. The Expendables (Third Weekend; $9.5 million): Sometimes, people just want to see a decent action pic, and though I can't attest for that, it seems that most audience members will.

2. Takers (First Weekend; $21 million): A heist movie, because we haven't had a really good one of those for almost a month now. The action flick is currently neck and neck with one other film for the top spot on this list, and we won't know until tomorrow who came out on top.

1. The Last Exorcism (First Weekend $21.3 million): Currently the top grossing film of this weekend, the horror film may be edged out by Takers when Sunday's grosses are taken into account.

Film Review: Winter's Bone

Just as this summer comes to an end, I finally get the chance to catch the first film this year to get enough going for it to be a credible threat in the Best Picture category. I'm going to state right away that I don't expect this film to take the top prize, as the film doesn't quite measure up to The Kids Are All Right or Toy Story 3, but this is still a hugely successful film. The film follows Ree Dolly, a seventeen year old girl who finds herself in the unfortunate position of primary caregiver for her two siblings and mother after her criminal father goes missing. When they are threatened with being kicked off their property if their father doesn't show up for court, Ree goes searching for him.

This film deals a fair bit with the setting of southern Missouri, and how the landscape really echoes the name of state. The trees don't shine of nature's beauty, but instead are more like uneven growths out of the cold winter landscape. The look of the cinematography is just as bleak as the subject matter. This family is being faced with poverty, homelessness, and the fact that their father may be dead. Ree Dolly, portrayed by this year's undiscovered-talent-turned-Oscar-contender Jennifer Lawrence, is one of those great female characters who you rarely see realized on screen. She's just as strong as the men in her criminalistic extended family, just in a different sort of way.

Director Debra Granik (Down to the Bone) really pushes the intensity of this thriller, right up the very end. There are moments where you feel like things could instantly go wrong without the slightest hesitation. You may indeed forget to breath during this movie. However, most things aren't as they initially seem, which is the main difference between a good film and a great one. There are things going on that Ree doesn't approve of or know about, but she can't do anything about it. All she can do is look out for her family's livelihood. Jennifer Lawrence isn't the only golden egg this movie has. John Hawkes also puts up an awards worthy performance as Ree's uncle, Teardrop. All the actors put their best work towards making this a family, and keeping that unique bond authentic.

There isn't much music in
this film, as if it would break the atmosphere of tension that surrounds our characters. Any music we do hear has strange and quiet nature to it. The pacing of the film is pitch-perfect, not laying around longer than it needs to. It gets it's business done while it can, and it doesn't feel rushed. As a matter of fact, you may be tricked into believing that that first thirty minutes of the film is an unnecessary waste of time. Things prove to be more eventful as the last hour of the film unfolds. Winter's Bone may or may not be remembered in the coming years, but it's currently got a number four spot on my list of top films of this year.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Woody and Buzz Pass $1 Billion!

Fifteen years ago, nobody could have guessed that this would happen for a franchise of such humble beginnings. Toy Story 3 has just passed the $1 billion mark, making it the first animated film to do so, and making Disney the first studio to have two films make $1 billion in one year. Pixar's eleventh feature is a lock for a Best Picture nomination, and people believe that it may have an actual chance at taking the top prize. Personally, I'm going to bet that it walks away with Best Animated Feature, as well it should, and perhaps a few technicals, but nothing more, especially not Best Picture. Still, Pixar has proven to be able to pull its own weight and to get the rewards of their hard work.

"Lost" and Found: Chapter 2: Relations With Each Other

6. House of the Rising Sun:

As the next chapter of Lost begins, we learn more about the less significant characters in the first season of the series. This one gives us a closer look at our Korean pals, Sun and Jin. They’re definitely just as flawed as the rest of the group. As a matter of fact, concerning the ongoing mythology of the series, they may have been optioned by Jacob to rule the island as a team. Their flaws are as a whole, and they really aren’t anything without each other.

The ensemble essence of the show continues on through here, with some brilliant bits including Locke and Charlie, Kate and Jack, and even Michael and Walt. John Locke continues to be the most impressive character on this show, giving Charlie some early guidance in the series. You might wonder why nothing ever really happened with Jack and Kate, and that’s the biggest inconsistency with this show. Maybe it’s just how irrational a character Kate is. Maybe it’s Jack being so damn distracted.

7. The Moth:

This is actually the first episode of Lost I saw, catching up on it before the final season premiered. This is what got me so invested in the show, and it made me grow a deeper sympathy for Charlie than most people. He always stuck me as such a tragic character, and from the beginning of the series, we know that most of these characters have sad deaths coming for them. It’s really heartbreaking in a way, and Charlie is the perfect example of that. He’s not a bad person, but due to the circumstances placed before him, he’s gone down a path of destruction.

We also get our split up group back together after Jack gets trapped in the cave. We see Michael and Jin, who were pit against each others throats one episode ago, working together to get their leader free. Charlie saves the day in the end, but it’s nice to see all that teamwork. There’s the side plot of Sayid attempting to find the signal, but that isn’t nearly as urgent or important as the main story. Ultimately this show isn’t about getting off the island at all.

8. Confidence Man:

We’re coming full circle on the main characters of this show, now focusing on the suspected bad guy of the series, Sawyer. After seven episodes painting him out to be complete a*hole, he gets a certain degree of justification for who he is in his flashback. I must credit the writers for coming up with such an amazingly detailed show. Now we have six characters with such dynamic background stories (five if you’re not a fan of Kate) and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even met Mr. Eko, Ben Linus, Desmond Hume, or Ana Lucia yet.

This episode, like most of the first season, is a masterstroke, if only for James Ford catching the sight of that little kid in the flashback. You have to be stone cold not get a deep sad pit in your stomach at that sight. We are then led into Sayid’s story for the next episode, with his anger getting the best of him. We get a glimpse of him seeing Shannon, and if you believe in their relationship like the writers did, it had deeper meaning for you. Either way, Sayid going on his own little walkabout at the end of this installment is the beginning of an expansion of the mythology of the island.

9. Solitary:

Finally we get to the Iraqi torturer with a heart, and the flashback we’ve been waiting for. It doesn’t quite deliver the thrills of the first eight episodes, but it isn’t meant to. This one is actually a bit of a relief. Sayid meets the French woman from the transmission, Danielle Rousseau, and we learn about the whispers and the others, two mysteries that will play out in a very big way over the next few years. Sayid went out to expand their knowledge of the island, and he kind of did.

As for our main group, there isn’t so much of an internal struggle as there was a bit of a vacation. Hugo figures that everybody is stressed out of their mind, so he sets up a golf course for people to have fun. Hugo is really one of the underrated characters of this show, and he knows how to take care of people. And then the golf-off ends abruptly and we never learn what happens. That ending remains one of the biggest mysteries of Lost for me.

10. Raised by Another:

Let me get this episode out of the way, because the land mark tenth episode of this series is kind of corny and disappointing. There’s psychics, weird nightmares, pregnancy scandals, and creepiest of all, Ethan Rom. This is a huge black mark of this otherwise great series. The ending of this one feels so rushed and ridiculous. Claire’s flashbacks reveal that there may be a higher knowledge that put them on the island, but it’s mostly just stupid. This could’ve been a better episode, but it wasn’t. This chapter’s ending is a real disappointment.

11. All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues:

Fortunately enough, Raised by Another isn’t the end of this chapter. Chapter two ends with another Jack-centric installment that reveals a little more of the nature of Jack’s relationship with his father. Now that the flashback’s aren’t focusing on how they got to the island, their actually a little more creative. Jack’s conflict with his father is a very interesting part of this episode, and Christian Shepherd has definitely made his share of mistakes. As interesting as that aspect of the story is, there’s still much more pressing matters at hand.

Ethan Rom has kidnapped Claire and Charlie, and Jack, Kate, Locke, and Boone go after them. This leads to a number of talking points, like Jack and Locke’s first big argument. Jack knows that it’s his fault for upsetting Claire, and he’s not going to stand back and let somebody else take care of it. At the same time, Locke realizes that if Jack dies, they will all die very quickly without a doctor. Locke is a hunter and a leader, while Jack has too many issues (Daddy and otherwise) to keep a level head in the face of such trauma.

However the best part of this episode is what happens when they find Charlie. Our favorite former drug addict is found hanging by his neck in a tree, a haunting image that’ll be hard to get out of your head. They really sell that this may very well be the end of Charlie, but Jack isn’t willing to give up. In one of the most amazing miracles of this show, Jack never gives up and brings Charlie back, beyond all hope. It’s one of those overjoyed and beautiful moments that gave me such faith in this show. Even when somebody doesn’t die, they milk the emotional value for all they can. That is the end of this chapter of Lost.

"Mission Impossible 4" to star Jeremy Renner!

I made a post on Jeremy Renner landing a role in the Brad Bird directed Mission Impossible movie, and I had to retract it. It wasn't for any other reason than me noticing that there were some facts that I wasn't completely informed of so I wanted to bring those to light. It turns out that Tom Cruise is going to be playing a more diminished role in this film, which won't take place where the last film left off. This one will actually feature a new lead character played by none other than Jeremy Renner. This is a hell of a lot different from earlier reports, and it's clear that Brad Bird is steering the franchise in a new direction, and probably a better one.

The new film may not even have Mission Impossible in the title at all. I understand if Brad Bird wants to add a new flair of originality to the franchise, and it's really been lacking that. The more news that comes out for this film, the more excited I am to see it. So we'll just have to wait and see what will happen with the series from here on out.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend Report: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

You may be asking yourself why this weekend feels so familiar. Is it the fall breeze returning to your day. Unfortunately, no. It's the repeat of so many films you've already seen in different forms. The most obvious example is Avatar: Special Edition, which I can't believe It's your best chance at a fun experience at the movies this weekend. Then again, you could just go home and watch Avatar on DVD and you'll probably get the same experience. OR you could stay at home and watch Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

Other than that, I really can't recommend anything new this weekend, because there isn't anything new. Takers is just another rehashed form of The Losers or something else like that. The Last Exorcism follows along the same sort of plot as The Exorcism (big surprise). Centurion wreaks of Gladiator, or rather a less engaging version of Gladiator. In short, Robin Hood. We have more interesting films on the way, but it'd be nice if we didn't have to wait so long to get the pay off we deserve.

My Opinion: This weekend offers a last opportunity to catch up on the big films this summer you may have missed. Skip out on all the new releases or re-releases, and perhaps you won't be the only person on earth who hasn't seen Inception. Or you could be one of the first people to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, before it becomes a cult classic. I'll be seeing Winter's Bone this weekend, and I'll get a review up for you on Sunday at the latest.

Theatical Trailer: Tamara Drewe

So, after Stephen Frears created a beautiful portrait of the Queen of England with the help of Helen Mirren, he goes the romantic comedy route with Tamara Drewe. Let me stress the point that this isn't an Oscar contender at all. This is meant for pure entertainment, and it looks like it may give that. I still don't like that stereotypically maniacal old guy in anything. Check out the trailer below.

For Your Acknowledgement: Axeman

I was once considering to put Resident Evil: Afterlife in my 3 to See for this month, or at least mention it in the honorable mention section. I know it seem irrational, and it is 100% ridiculous, but that's what people want to see sometimes. They want to see mindless action in 3D, and this film isn't converted 3D. This film utilizes the same 3D technology used in Avatar, but with even less logic. Fortunately, I opted out of wasting time and money on this picture, mainly because of this clip. If you have ever considered seeing this movie, and you can still see from both eyes because neither of them were stabbed out by a pen at Comic Con, this clip will likely change your mind.

This is what happens when 3D goes too far. An action scene where half of the time is spent simply running in slow motion, while a rock jam score blares in the background. Seriously, if you want cool stylistic action, go see Machete. If you want to see jaw-dropping 3D visuals, your best bet is unfortunately Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. The only thing Afterlife will do is end Ali Larter's career. Not to mention Axeman's. We will miss you Axeman.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Roadside and Liddel Save "I Love You, Phillip Morris"!

Two days in a row, Roadside Attractions and Liddel Entertainment have acquired a long time stranded film and put it on the course for release. This time, it's for the much delayed I Love You, Phillip Morris. I haven't been endlessly anticipating this film, but it promises to be a return to form for Jim Carrey and another interesting showcase for Ewan McGregor. The film is now set for a December 3 release date, as a holiday comedy for the masses. Not an Oscar contender, but more of a Christmas present.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Biutiful" IS Coming this December!

This film has been waiting for a pickup since it first premiered at Cannes Film Festival this year, and now, a mere four months before the close of the year, Roadside Attractions and Liddel Entertainment have aquired the rights to release Biutiful this December! Reviews for the film have been somewhat mixed, and they'll likely remain that way until either its release of its showing at the Toronto Film Festival. At the very least, Javier Bardem is the closest thing to a lock for a nomination that the Best Actor category has so far this year.

Honorary Oscar Going to Coppola... And Others!

These next five days are going to be particularly messy, but I'll get the latest film related new to you as soon as I can. Among those worthy events is the announcement of the winners of the Honorary Oscars this year. Obviously they won't be recognized during the actual broadcast, but an award's an award. Francis Ford Coppola, director of such masterpieces as The Godfather, has been chosen to receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Usually these awards go to people I haven't heard of before, so the fact that this is going to somebody who I've not only heard of, but been inspired by is particularly satisfying.

Then going down the list of the other winners, we reach people I have never heard of or cared about. Jean-Luc Godard has never had a film that's received a nomination, yet he gets one here. Then there's actor Eli Wallach, who has donated his time to a bunch of westerns I haven't had the time or energy to see, like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Finally, who could forget to put in a mention of Kevin Brownlow and his work for the film industry. This is one of the huge problems I have with the Honorary awards. They never seem important enough.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaser Trailer: 127 Hours

It's amazing how such high expectations can be brought down to earth over the course of two minutes. The trailer for Danny Boyle's much talked about new film, 127 Hours has arrived, and my take of it is slightly mixed. I was one of the people who absolutely loved Slumdog Millionaire, but this looks like a whole different animal, maybe in a bad way. A lot of the cinematography is much like a hand held camera. If that's the way this entire movie is going to be, then I have some hesitations. However, this feels more like a teaser trailer than a final one, so maybe there's more than just this. I do like the quick change in tone from light and enjoyable, to panicked and terrifying. We'll have to wait and see if this ultimately figures into my Best Picture prediction for it. Check it out below.

3 to See in September!

The lineup of films this September isn't nearly a depressing as August was. That may be because the summer is over and therefore people are going to be too busy to go out to the theaters on numerous occasions. It might be because we're heading into Autumn when more Oscar worthy films tend to pop up. I strictly believe it's because there are just some good movies out this month, along with some diverting and unnecessary flops waiting to happen (You Again, Alpha and Omega, Devil). Before I get into the top three, I would like to draw attention to a few films that almost made this list, and do have the potential to be surprise hits.

Easy A, whose trailer I initially panned because I couldn't brush from my memory how disgusting Amanda Bynes looks in the film, actually looks like a moderately funny and enjoyable film. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps got some good reviews coming out of Cannes, so you might want to watch out for that. Ben Affleck's The Town has a decent amount of buzz going for it, but it looks a little too much like Brooklyn's Finest, or any other cop drama out there. However, you never can tell with Ben Affleck whether he is going to make a great film or not. Now on to my three to see.

3. MacheteThe audience favorite of the month definitely has to go to Robert Rodriguez's Machete, based on the fake-trailer that premiered in Grindhouse a few years back. One thing that Rodriguez knows how to do best is old-style gritty violence with a comedic edge to it. You can see that talent in the trailer with the title character using some poor guy's intestines as a rope to swing into a lower window. This film exists for the action within it, and for Danny Trejo to shine in a lead role. The main actor to watch in this movie is Cheech Marin, who plays the catholic priest brother of Machete. I can tell from the trailer that he's going to get most of the lines that will be remembered in this film.

2. The American Barely beating out Machete for the number two spot on my list of films to look forward to next month is Anton Corbijn's The American. I'd like to say up front that I don't think this film will be a huge presence in the awards season. Maybe for the cinematography, and perhaps for George Clooney's performance, but not much beyond that. Still, I think this will be the sort of contemplative thriller that I usually enjoy. I enjoy the slow-building intensity that those films give, instead of the quick jolts of the average thriller that you quickly get used to. This film may not be something incredibly new, but it looks like something incredibly good.

1. Never Let Me Go (Limited Release) Never Let Me Go doesn't get a wide release until later on, but it's worth nothing. It's a british drama based on a beloved book, starring Kiera Knightly, Carey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield. It's got the most basic buzz surrounding it already, so if it actually manages to be a heartfelt and enjoyable film, it could break through to be a legitimate contender this awards season, like Atonement did in 2007. I dearly hope I'm not wrong to place my vote of confidence in this film. As it is, my other two picks on the list seem either destined not to be critical darlings, or have been too quiet to encourage confidence that they'll actually be good. So I'm going to sit back and pray that all three of these movies I want to see, including my top pick, are reviewed positively so that for once in my life, I can be right about what you should and shouldn't see.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Box Office Report: "Expendables" Holds Strong

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Second Weekend; $5.2 million): The modern movie going audience rarely rewards originality, and Edgar Wright's comedic action romance continues to suffer as a result.

9. Inception (Sixth Weekend; $7.8 million): Then again, when originality is rewarded, it does give the more critically minded some satisfaction, as Christopher Nolan's masterpiece continues to ensnare audiences, now rising to $262 million.

8. Nanny McPhee Returns (First Weekend; $8.4 million): In a world where kids movies do spectacularly, this summer hasn't been too friendly to them. The children's sequel failed to draw audiences this weekend.

7. The Switch (First Weekend; $8.4 million): Another genre that's been butchered for the most part this summer is romantic comedies, which Jason Bateman's film opening this weekend had the misfortune of being.

6. Piranha 3D (First Weekend; $10.1 million): See critics! This is what you get for selling out on your beliefs! The 3D horror film with blood and boobs, didn't do very well this weekend. Odd, isn't it?

5. The Other Guys (Third Weekend; $10.1 million): Adam McKay's action-comedy-whatever keeps earning more money than it should be, now at $88.2 million.

4. The Lottery Ticket (First Weekend; $10.6 million): The black comedy (as in comedy with black people in it) made a decent, but barely noticeable opening.

3. Eat Pray Love (Second Weekend; $12.1 million): Ryan Murphy's drama adaptation continues to do well by its own standards, taking a 47.6% drop and adding to a total gross of $47.2 million.

2. Vampires Suck (First Weekend; $12.2 million): I'm glad that this film didn't open at number one, but I'm still disappointed that people actually spent money on this movie at all.

1. The Expendable (Second Weekend; $17 million): The Sylvester Stallone directed action fest (starring Sylvester Stallone) held onto the top spot in a slow weekend, echoing the dying desperation of the end of summer 2008.

"Piranha 3D" Sequel Underway?

Apparently you no longer need people to like a movie in order for it to get a sequel. The day after Piranha 3D set the record for lowest opening weekend gross for a Digital 3D film, a sequel for the film was already in the works. I don't really plan on seeing the film in theaters, and if you don't want to see a 3D horror film in theaters, you never see it at all. Personally, I don't think this film will ever actually happen, but you never know.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miyazaki's Next Film: Porco Rosso 2

After nearly a year of no speculation at all, Hayao Miyazaki knows what he wants to do as his next project, and it'll be Studio Ghibli's first sequel. He hopes to make a sequel to his classic film, Porco Rosso. I have unfortunately not seen that volume in Miyazaki's archive of work, but if this film comes to be a reality, I'll be sure to catch it immediately. Anything new from Miyazaki is a welcome treat. Even Ponyo, which many view as Hayao's worst film to date, got rave reviews for how sweet the film was. Hard to believe it wasn't nominated for Animated Feature last year.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quick Critiques: August 15 - 21

District 9
4+ Viewing
A- It's been about a year since the film came out, and at the time there was talk that the film was pretty great, but would never be nominated for Best Picture. Five months later, the film makes it into the big ten, and though some wrote it off immediately as a treat-to-be-nominated film that didn't have much chance at winning, I beg to differ. I knew immediately that this film had more of a chance at winning than Avatar, because of what District 9 had that that film didn't: a screenplay nomination. This film was superbly written and performed, and that's what captivated me the most. The visual effects, editing, and cinematography were amazing, but all second to what made the film spectacular. One year later, this film continues to deliver.

Shoot 'Em Up

1st Viewing

Going into this movie, I knew what it was meant to be. Just another non-stop sexy action fest with witty one-liners galore, and I appreciated that. This film was never meant to have any deep meaning, and it really didn't. It was just looking for an excuse to kill people, and I found their excuse justifiable. There is some brilliant gun fighting in this movie, especially in the mid-section sex scene. Were we really under the assumption that this film wouldn't have a sex scene somewhere in it? Who are we kidding. That's what we want, and they deliver. Paul Giamatti's performance is good, but we don't come here for him.

The Ghost Writer

1st Viewing

A- Even imprisoned, Roman Polanski is one spectacular filmmaker. I skipped out of seeing this film in theaters at the last moment and opted instead to see Greenberg. In hind sight, not the best decision I could've made. Despite some dark subject matter that could have easily been a slow and boring two hours, this film springs with a liveliness rare to find in this kind of drama. There is an intriguing mystery at the heart of this film, and the revelation at the end is very powerful. The cinematography is stunning, as is the energetic score by Alexandre Desplat. Ewan McGregor usually sticks with the same sort of role, but he makes it work because he's superb within it. Going into The Ghost Writer, I was prepared for a slight disappointment, but it never came. If this were released towards the end of the year, it would be up for Oscar contention. As it is, it's a well paced early year thriller.

The Hurt Locker

3rd Viewing
A Many will remember that the first time I reviewed this film (what I refer to as the dark times of H.o.C.), I didn't really appreciate it at all. I was very limited minded back then, and I wasn't able to see the film for what it was: a riveting, high tension, action-drama set in the Iraq war. I changed my opinion of the film as the Oscars were approaching, and this film was claimed to be neck and neck with Avatar. I had to take a side, so I sided with this film, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Jeremy Renners performance is amazing, as are the cameo performances by Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pierce. I've had rough relationship with The Hurt Locker, but ultimately, a beneficial one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekend Report: Like Being Eaten By Piranhas!

As a statement for how depressing this summer has been, the best and most logical thing to do with your money is to spend it on Piranha 3D. This movie was never supposed to be good, but somehow it has gotten good reviews for two reasons. One, because at this point in the summer, all people want is a fun time at the movies, and apparently blood, gore, and boobs are suddenly considered fun. Weird, right? The second reason is that there isn't much of a sensible alternative this weekend. Lets go down the list of this weekend's releases, and nail them to the ground.

First, foremost, and most depressingly is Vampires Suck, a film that I would absolutely love to see if there weren't a 100% likelihood that it wouldn't make me want to kill myself, which there is. I've seen reviews on YouTube by regular fans who are urging people not to spend money on this movie. The saddest thing is that people will, and even sadder is that this film's opening weekend gross will be higher than that of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. In the sidebar I have a quote from last weekend's release, and you're better off just spending 90 minutes repeatedly reading that. Trust me. You will enjoy yourself so much more.

Then there's The Lottery Ticket, a film from Ice Cube. It's depressing that most movies with an entire cast and crew of black people can't be more like Precious and less like Death at a Funeral (2010). That's really all I have to say about that movie, because it just doesn't look worth your time or money. Moving on, we have The Switch, another predictable and painful romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. I've gotten used to the fact that this is the only type of movie they do make anymore, and have removed them from my list of actors to watch for.

Finally, closing out the list of depressing films crammed into this sorry excuse for a weekend, Nanny McPhee Returns. Anyway, we know right now that good or bad, this movie is made for children, so they most likely won't care. The reviews for this film have been somewhat positive, but unless 90% of critics say this film must be seen, I'd just recommend that you skip this film.

My Opinion: Don't go see Vampires Suck, The Lottery Ticket, or The Switch at all this weekend. If you're under the age of 13, feel free to see Nanny McPhee Returns. Otherwise, the best bet this weekend is to go out and see Piranha 3D. Or you can go home and celebrate the one year anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

Follow and Reblog "High on Celluloid" on Tumblr!

Since we're still trying to branch out as much as possible before autumn begins, a second site for High on Celluloid has been opened up on Tumblr. So I've left a link to the page in the sidebar, so readers can follow and reblog the posts on that site. Keep in mind that these are the exact same posts that I place here. This site isn't going anywhere. We're just trying to stem out to new areas. Thank you.

2010 Festival Schedule

As we enter the final round of this year's festival circuit, lets take a quick look at the festivals for the next month or two. Hopefully a few of them will make it to awards season.

Venice Film Festival: September 1-11
Top Films: Black Swan, Somewhere, The Tempest, Machete

Toronto Film Festival: September 9-19
Top Films: Miral, Conviction, The Illusionist, The King's Speech, Let Me In, Hereafter, Another Year

New York Film Festival: September 24-October 10
Top Films: The Social Network, Hereafter

London Film Festival: October 13-28
Top Films: 127 Hours, Never Let Me Go

International Trailer: Another Year

Of the big films that came out of Cannes this year, and there weren't many, the one that caught the most attention concerning Oscar potential was Mike Leigh's Another Year. With the international trailer now out for the film, we get a brief glimpse of what people were talking about, but if you want to get a better idea of what's in store for you, check out the clips that premiered online during Cannes. I have them posted below, and you can follow this link to the trailer. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Skyline" Poster

"The Tourist" Opening in December

Just when you think we have all our bases covered for this year's Oscars, we have a last minute submission that has the potential to change everything. Sure, a political thriller starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp doesn't scream Best Picture, but the fact that it was unexpectedly shoved into December of this year must mean that the makers have confidence that it'll be a contender. It's the opposite equivalent to delaying a film like Shutter Island until February, so as to cut it out of awards season. So it seems that on December 10th, we'll be seeing The Tourist enter the playing field.

The film follows an American tourist (Depp) who is used by a woman (Jolie) in an attempt to flush out a criminal with whom she once had an affair. It's not exactly the sort of plot that the Academy usually goes for. However, given the two high profile actors, I'd say it has a decent stab at the acting races. We'll have to wait for the trailer to come out to be sure, but what do you think of this news?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Theatrical Trailer: Fair Game

I'm still of the position that Doug Liman deserves to be buried alive for the atrocity of Jumper, right along side Hayden Christensen. However, this trailer shows that he may be trying to redeem himself with something good. The new trailer for Fair Game looks pretty interesting, if only because it boasts an amazing performance by Sean Penn. I absolutely loved him in this trailer, and if he has as much to work with in the entire film as he does here, I'm definitely sold on it. It may not make it to Best Picture, and as a matter of fact, it probably won't. However, I think it may get a Supporting Actor nod for Sean Penn. Check it out below.

Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" Not Coming Until 2011?

This isn't necessarily official yet, but it might as well be, as everything that has come out about this film has led us to believe such. As a matter of fact, this post is mostly based on speculation, but it's more than just the typical fan-boy rumors. This comes from Todd McCarthy, former film critic of Variety magazine, now a writer and reviewer for indiewire. The following paragraph is from a piece he just recently wrote and posted for Deep Focus, the entire article for which you can follow the link to.
All through our recent two weeks in the dark, we received periodic updates and tentative promises about the imminent arrival of the film for us to view; even well into the second week we were still being thus tantalized. Finally, of course, came word that Malick was still not done and it now seems clear the picture will not be opening this year. I can’t prove it, of course, and he’s supposedly set to start shooting a new film in Oklahoma in October, but I’m convinced we won’t be seeing “The Tree of Life” until, at the earliest, the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Or perhaps it could turn up at the New York Film Festival a year from now.

Personally, I have a feeling that the same sort of thing will happen for The Way Back. What do you think will happen to The Tree of Life. I want to hear your theories.

Potter Watch (16 of 77): "Deathly Hallows" Surprise Oscar Contender?

Currently, there is quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding this year's Oscar race. The Black Swan trailer came out yesterday, and there's already talk that this could catapult Natalie Portman into the top of the Best Actress race, but that it isn't quite Best Picture material. There's still a lot of people questioning whether or not Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life will be released this year or not, and I'm in strong belief that it won't. Same goes for Peter Weir's The Way Back, which hasn't had a lot of buzz going for it. So I have a strong belief that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 has a huge chance at one of those spots.

When the trailer for the two-part finale came out, people devoted two hours of their day to continuously watching it (or at least I did). There hasn't been an overtly bad film in this franchise to date, but there have been a few disappointing ones (Chamber of Secrets, Order of the Phoenix). Now that we know basic subject matter of the first part, it seems less like the first half of a film, and sounds like an entire adventure. The film is definitely going to be up for some technical credits, including Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Visual Effects, and Cinematography (Eduardo Serra), but why not go further?

Last year, David Yates proved himself to be an accomplished director with Half-Blood Prince. We have roughly the same creative team as last time, but with a lot more events happening in this installment. Recently, Daniel Radcliffe has said that the first part is mostly a character study on our trio, and that's usually what the Academy goes for. A more personal piece with plenty of action in it does sound a lot like another recent big-budget Oscar contender, Inception. So I'd say this film has as much a chance as most of the other films being released in the latter part of the year at the big three races: Picture, Director, and Screenplay.

Theatrical Trailer: My Soul To Take

An original horror film by Wes Craven? Sure, but one that borrows heavily from other original horror films by Wes Craven. The teens are in danger of being murdered by a killer whose soul entered one of the kids born on the night he died. In 3D! The question is, who? I'm going to go out on a limb, and say it's Bug. At this point, I don't know if this film will be on the good or bad end of horror films, but it's by the man who has created some of the best horror film ever, so I'm keeping optimism alive. Check out the trailer for My Soal To Take below.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Biggest Oscar Disappointments: Best Cinematography (2010)

There are definitely times when I am disappointed by the decisions the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences, and I don't think that I'm alone in that lament. So let me start off with one that's been irritating me recently, and that's this year's winner for best cinematography, Mauro Fiore for Avatar. I've seen Avatar enough times to take a look at the cinematography, and I have to say that there is really nothing remarkable about any of the shots in that film. The images are beautiful, but that has a great deal to do with the visual effects. As a matter of fact, there are specific shots in which it very obviously zooms in, so as to make it look like there was an actual camera there. Intentionally using bad cinematography doesn't make it good cinematography.

Then, when you look at the other films nominated, you have to wonder why they didn't win. I never got the chance to see The White Ribbon, so I can't yet comment on that. The Hurt Locker could've won for that shot in the opening scene with the slow motion explosion. Inglourious Basterds had so many amazing angles in it that, at the time of predictions, I was sure it was going to win. The shot where Aldo interrogates Hammersmark while has his finger in her bullet hole was simply brilliant. When I think back, the film that probably should've won that award is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, because it really did have the most deeply textured and astounding shots of any film this year, and the only reason it didn't win was because of "Potter fatigue." Ultimately, I think I'd have been satisfied if any other film won, other than Avatar.

What's your take? Do you think that Avatar was deserving of that award? If not, what film do you think should've won? Comment below, and let me know. And rhyme!

Theatrical Trailer: The Next Three Days

A few days ago, this trailer for Paul Haggis' The Next Three Days appeared online, and though I think the film looks great, it's absolutely nowhere on my list of Oscar contenders. This film looks like an action film, first and foremost. It has Liam Neeson in the same action role he usually takes, so it's pretty safe to say this film isn't going to be too original. It looks well enough to check it out.

Theatrical Trailer: Black Swan

400th Post!

The festival film of the moment, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, now has a trailer up, and it's definitely strange. Instead of it being a simply confrontation picture, it looks like more of an intense psychological piece. One that could earn Natalie Portman an Oscar nomination this year. This definitely looks like a good film, but I'm not sure if it's going to make it to the best picture category. In a world of ten nominations, anything's possible. You should still take a look at this trailer, because it deeply freaked me out, and I hate that I have to wait until late December to see it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Theatrical Trailer: I'm Still Here

Less than a month before its release, we have the first, and likely last trailer for the Joaquin Phoenix documentary, I'm Still Here. We all remember that crazy time when Joaquin decided to give up acting and be a rapper. Well, Casey Affleck chronicles his journey in this hard-R documentary, and this trailer does deal with the darker side of the struggle. Check it out.

Craig and Mara Officially Cast in "Dragon Tattoo"!

I assume that you've heard of or read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and by now you know that David Fincher is making an American adaptation of the book. Well, a great deal of time has been spent on speculating who will play Lisbeth Salander, the tatted girl of the title. Even though I was personally hoping for Ellen Page, I'm finely satisfied with who they picked. Rooney Mara has been cast in the title role, and while she isn't a house hold name, she may soon be. She's already had experience with Fincher, having appeared in this October's The Social Network.

As for the male lead, Daniel Craig has been officially confirmed for the role. Not that that wasn't already obvious, but at least we have confirmation. Word still has yet to come on filling the supporting cast, but I trust that they will do as good a job as they've done here.

You Should Know...

Things at High on Celluloid may be a bit different very soon. I'm heading off to college in a little more than a week, and I'm more than a bit uncertain about the future of the site. I'm definitely commited to making this blog a regular stop for people on the internet. The year I've spent working on this site has been the best year of my life, and it's due to you readers, what few of you there are. So in a few weeks, this may feel more like High on Celluloid lite, but I'll do what I can to keep up, and I hope you do the same. Let your friends know about High on Celluloid. Spread the word, and hopefully we'll get more well known. Thank you all so much. You are what makes this possible, and you are what fuels me at the end of the day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Fringe: Season 3" Promo!

I may indeed be alone in my love affair with Fringe, but I still hope that it gets a wider audience this year. The new promotional TV spot for the third season of the science fiction drama has hit, and it does tease at some amazing new possibilities. You can always take a guess at what the Fringe team is going to be up to, but leave it to Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman to go against what we expect in a good way. You can see the teaser below, and weigh in on your own thoughts. Sorry for the low quality.

Box Office Report: "The Expendables" K.O.'s "Scott Pilgrim"

This is one of those successful weekends where the wrong films are successful. I am of course talking about The Expendables taking the weekend with $35 million, and Eat Pray Love coming in second with $23.7 million, while Scott Pilgrim vs. The World opened disappointingly with $10.5 million. Hopefully those estimates will change when Pilgrim's Sunday total is confirmed, but things definitely aren't what could've been hoped for. Even worse, The Other Guys took in another $17 million this weekend, which will likely lead to it being the third worst movie of the summer to make it past the $100 million mark.

On the flip side of things, Inception took in another $11 million this weekend, after a 38% drop from last weekend. The film currently stands just outside of $250 million. On top of that, Toy Story 3 made quite a milestone this weekend, not only becoming the highest grossing animated film of all time, but also becoming just the eleventh film to pass the $400 million mark domestically. Oddly enough, this weekend was up from the same weekend last year when District 9 opened in the number one spot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Potter Watch Follow-up: Thought on "Deathly Hallows" Split

So, a few days ago I talked about the place where the two Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films are supposed to be split, and I kept focusing on what problems that might bring up, instead of thinking of how perfect an ending for Part 1 it was. I just wanted to spend a bit of time thinking about that, and for those who don't want to know what happens, SPOILER ALERT! What we have closing the first film is the whole Empire Strikes Back sort of ending. Dobby, one of the most lovable characters of the series, dies and Voldemort gains the power of the ultimate weapon by ripping it free of Dumbledore's dead hands. As far as bleak endings go, that's pretty damn amazing, and sets up perfectly for the brutal atmosphere of Part 2.