Wednesday, October 31, 2007

First clip from Beowulf

Despite the many changes that have probably been made to the story, this clip is something that actually does happen (albeit in no more than a flashback) in the actual poem.

The action? - pretty awesome

Ray Winstone's (Beowulf) narration/line delivery? - BAD. (we...swam for....days and......then a storm.......came and...)

Beowulf Clip - the swimming contest and the micors (water monsters)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

TRAILER for "Wanted"

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (also w/Jolie) + Shoot Em'Up - the trashiness = Wanted

Wanted HD trailer

Teaser poster for the second Narnia movie: Prince Caspian

The film is due May 2008. Let's hope that this turns out better than the first one (though the Witch and the little girl were great). Kudos to the marketing team though; this is exactly what a teaser poster should be. Though apparently Aslan doesn't have a big role in the rest of the books/movies they were smart to include him so people make the connection that this is a follow up.

Just another reason for me to loathe the new "Beowulf" movie.

They actually seem to think that a butchered adaptation (come on, it's a pretty straightforward story guys...) featuring Angelina Jolie as a character described in the poem as a "troll wife" and with a line that sounds too much like 300's "This is SPAR-TA!" (I!! AM!! BEoWULF!!) is going to be a major awards contender? I don't think so. While yes, the movie could turn out to be awesome, Beowulf, in any form is so heavily action oriented that the chances of it being considered are minuscule. It does, however, have a shot at original song, now that they've got Tony winner Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent) singing it. But...why on earth is the "troll wife" wearing high heels? Also, take note that the..."thing" Beowulf is wearing around his waist is eerily similar to those leather swimsuits the Spartans wore in 300. Seriously now...

The Most Horrifying Video EVER

I give you, "the cake song". You have been warned.

The Cake Song

For whatever reason, youtube disabled the ability to post videos directly to a blog, so now I have to just put the link. Shame...

Monday, October 29, 2007

First pictures from "Wanted" with Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman

I have no idea what this movie is about, and it could turn out to be complete $&@!, but something about these pictures has me intrigued. It's so bizarre, Angelina Jolie can really get on my nerves (Alexander, the Beowulf trailers) and other times she just looks like a goddess. Morgan Freeman is always reliable and James McAvoy is becoming one of the most talented rising starts in Hollywood. Everyone run! Angie's killing badguys and adopting kids simultaneously!!

Early PRAISE for The Golden Compass! *whew*

The lucky reporter has seen A HALF HOUR of what he believes is completed footage (with Desplat's score, which he calls "lovely"). He also says that Kidman is pretty kickass (I knew it I knew it I knew it) as the villain, and that the film looks to be a holiday smash and a treat for kids and adults. Oddly enough, it's from FOX news which I thought would be at the forefront of the "boycott the GC because the books have atheistic themes!!" movement.

Here's the article:

Nicole Kidman Is Golden in Holiday Smash

Forget whatever you might have read elsewhere last week about Nicole Kidman in “The Golden Compass.”

This column told you a few weeks ago that Kidman was in a slump after the terrible performance of “The Invasion” co-starring Daniel Craig. But never in my wildest imagination did I think that would be interpreted into a story elsewhere that Kidman was finito. Ridiculous! My point was that the Oscar-winning actress, who’s not yet 40, has only made very interesting choices with a series of indie films.

Now comes Kidman in “The Golden Compass,” the first part of a trilogy based on very popular novels by Phil Pullman called “His Dark Materials.” New Line Cinema, the folks who brought you “The Lord of the Rings” is behind this one, too, with Mark Ordesky again taking up the reins. I’ve now seen about a half hour of it, and without a doubt, “The Golden Compass” will be the big holiday smash hit for which Hollywood is so desperate.

Click here to read: Christian Groups Claim Pro-Atheist 'Stealth Campaign' in Nicole Kidman Fantasy Film 'The Golden Compass'

Kidman is not the heroine. Rather, she gets to be deliciously sinister as an evil pot-stirrer who has a big plot point secret. She is also sensationally beautiful, wearing clingy full length gold lame dresses to slink around in, sort of Cruella de Vil at a swanky cocktail party.

And her co-star again is Daniel Craig, only this time their chemistry clicks. Since no one saw “The Invasion,” it should be easy to forget. Once this trilogy is a smash, that earlier film will make a good trivia question.

But above and beyond Kidman, Craig and winning preteen star Dakota Blue Richards as main character Lyra, “The Golden Compass” will be wildly popular for its special effects. It’s full of fantastic animals, all busy shape shifting, talking and clawing their way to the front of the screen. Yes, the gray tabby cat who follows Dakota around talks, and that’s not all!

From what I’ve seen, not only kids but adults too will want to go back and see “The Golden Compass” a second time for the menagerie alone.

Meantime, message boards on the Internet seem to be panicking that somehow “The Golden Compass” is being re-edited or changed in some way by the studio. But what I’ve seen indicates that director Chris Weitz — who still has two more episodes to go — is in charge, and that what’s coming is his vision. Nothing can change Ian McKellen as the voice of a wise (but dangerous) polar bear. I think when we see the finished product — scheduled to open in London on Nov. 27 — fans will be more than pleasantly surprised.

By the way, Golden Globe-winner Alexandre Desplat is responsible for the film’s lovely score. But I’m told that some popular music may make it into the final soundtrack, including Coldplay. After seeing the footage, I can tell you they’d fit right in.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Amanda_Norton's anti Cate Blanchett campaign

to quote Amanda herself, this comes "from the sick twisted depths of my own mind".

Addressing the "negative buzz" about The Golden Compass movie

Read this first:

Nicole Kidman’s “The Golden Compass” to Bomb


Nicole Kidman’s "The Golden Compass," based on the first book in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, is receiving negative previews.

"It is a $175 million investment for New Line Cinema, which has been hurting ever since 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy," says an insider. "People working on the movie say it is just plain bad."

The picture is said to rely too much on CGI effects and may turn off some with its talking, armored polar bear.

But a New Line rep said, "That's bull[bleep]," and got us a quote from Ted Cooper, the senior VP of Regal Ent. Group who saw the movie at the Showeast convention.

Cooper said, " 'Golden Compass' has been on my radar for nearly a year now. I perceive this as one of the most important films to play throughout the holidays."

Kidman's latest flicks have flopped: "The Stepford Wives," "The Invasion," "Bewitched," "The Interpreter," "Dogville" and "Fur."

Moving on. Let's address the "flaws" with this "negative buzz" and seek the truth (shame the alethiometer doesn't actually exist).

1. "people working on the movie have been saying it's just plain bad". This is just one person. Many other people working on the technical aspects of the film (including the "overused VFX) have said they enjoyed working on it; some have even called it their favorite project to ever work on.

2. The article seems more focused on Kidman's string of flops (though come on now, The Interpreter was good and by no means a flop; the rest?..yeah..) than the actual films. Every time one of her recent films flop, articles pop up like this.

3. It's just one "insider" whose one small quote has appeared in numerous articles. That's right, it's not a bunch of people, it's ONE GUY who's small statement is being published EVERYWHERE.

4. "the picture relies too heavily on special effects and some may be scared by the armored polar bear..." The first half of that statement could make sense for those who haven't read the books; the second is just plain dumb. Back to the first half: Anyone who has read TGC and the rest of the His Dark Materials trilogy knows that this is a story that (unlike many of today's blockbusters) actually NEEDS lots of special effects. Flying witches, armored and fighting polar bears, air ships, massive shots of parallel universe London, and of course, Daemons which everyone (yes, even those silent extras) needs to have. And what makes it more complicated? For starters, children's daemons can change into any animal they want at any time. They also have to react to pain just as their human counterparts do; daemons are physical manifestations of a person's soul - if it gets hurt, so do you, and vice versa. Now, about that "turn off" of a talking polar bear. Oh, how silly of me, talking animals have never EVER appeared in a successful fantasy film! How stupid of me to *cough*Narnia*cough*Harry Potter*cough*lots of other stuff*cough* forget! The major polar bear fight if anything, is going to be one of the big draws, especially for the older teens/young adults. And besides, Iorek Byrnison could totally kick Aslan's ass...(sorry Narnia lovers).

5. While we're at it, let's look at some other films that had so-so or negative buzz:
A) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - everyone's initial verdict? "this attempt at reviving the pirates genre will be dead in the water..."

The end result? - Hugely popular with critcs AND audiences, great box office, and 6 Oscar nominations including Best Leading Actor for Johnny Depp. And this was a film based on a theme park ride.

B) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - the initial verdict? "Why the #$(*&#(*&(*@ is some crazy New Zealand guy who has only done small budget movies adapting Tolkien's masterful epic?"

The end result? - huge box office and critical love, with each film being nominated for best Picture and Best Director. Return of the King swept with 11 Oscars and became the 2nd highest grossing movie of all time (not too shabby, eh?).

C) 007: Casino Royale - the initial verdict? "Some unknown blonde guy is gonna be Bond? WTF this will SUCK! Craig should NEVER EVER be BOND!"

The end result? - Great box office as well as hugely positive reaction from audiences and critics; on, CR was the best reviewed major studio release (95% fresh) of 2006.

Conclusion: Does this mean that The Golden Compass will enjoy the mind blowing success of The Lord of the Rings? Maybe not in terms of awards, but it could certainly kick serious box office butt considering the extensive and well organized marketing campaign.

- Can this movie be bad: of course it can. I'd have to throw myself off a bridge if it was, but yes, it could turn out to be bad (and I mean as a bad "film". It could be an awful adaptation but still be a good film like the Prisoner of Azkaban movie).

- Will the changes doom the film?: Phillip Pullman seems thrilled, and he signed over ALL creative control to the studio. So...I'd say, "no".

- Am I still looking forward to December 7th as much as ever?: Hell yeah. And besides, look at the picture below; Kidman knows we don't like it when she flops, and she's out for vengeance....I mean seriously, look at those eyes....they just scream "do something wrong, and I'll KILL you!".

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This Week in TV October 22-26

Boston Legal, Season 4, Episode 5: PREEMPTED BY THE EVIL BROADCASTING DEVILS OF CBS FOR A SPECIAL EDITION OF 20-20!!!! WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHY!!! No one watches 20-20 anymore no matter how interesting it is. Poor Boston Legal always gets preempted for stuff like this. The only good thing is that it gives me more time to recover from how much Lorainne is holding this show back...

The Office, Season 4, Episode 5: Easily proves my point that this show needs to stay in the 30 min format. Fast, funny, to the point, and everything that an episode of the Office should be. Highlight: Andy telling Dwight about he and Angela are only necking..."like, not even kissing, we just rub our necks together.." Grade: A-

30 Rock, Season 2, Episode 4:
flat out hysterical from its opening to the examination of the underground world of the page boys to the gut buster moment of the week: Jack (Baldwin) impersonating Tracy Morgan's dad, mom, and neighbor as part of Tracy's therapy. Genius. Grade: A

SCRUBS, Season 7, Episode 1:
Unfortunately, if this is any indication, then Scrubs' 7th (and FINAL) season could be just as uneven as the underwhelming season 6. Here's hoping that they can pull together for their last run.Parts were good, but overall...'eh'... Grade: C+

Ugly Betty, Season 2, Episode 5:
a mixed bag. The good: THEY FINALLY HAD AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT THAT FELT AUTHENTIC!!! Marc's little story line could've been really uncomfortable, but it was pulled off reasonably well. Last, it looks like there will be some interesting development in Christina's character now that her husband has "found her" (and that doesn't seem like its a good thing). The bad: The scenes with Henry and Betty trying to avoid each other were too awkward, and almost completely lacking in charm, wit, or humor. Grade: B-

The Colbert Report:
I don't think I can even comment any more...I'm too busy holding my sides from laughing... Grade: A-

The Sarah Silverman Program, Season 2, Episode 4:
little too much of the gross and the truly bizarre. However, it was funny seeing "Cookie Party", the idiotic show that Sarah and her sister watch every week. Grade: B-

South Park, Season 11 Part 2, Episode 4:
Bizarre? Yes. Gross? Yes. Disturbing? Yes. Funny and outrageous satire? Hell yeah. The best moment: the appearance of the ManBearPig. Grade: B+

Best Line of the Week:
"Lemon, I want you to accept this award that annually recognizes those who show excellence as being followers as opposed to leaders."

"Jack, that's ridiculous. I'm NOT a follower!"

"It also comes with this $10,000 check."

"I accept this on behalf of followers everywhere." - 30 Rock

What the Oscars could look like...

nominees not listed in any order

Best Picture:
  1. No Country for Old Men - rave reviews, and the Coen's return to top form make it a decent lock
  2. Atonement - not a single bad review and plenty of raves. A sure lock for at least the nomination.
  3. American Gangster - Chance of nomination? High. Chance of winning? None. The Academy won't award another gangster epic so soon after The Departed.
  4. Charlie Wilson's War - the cast, the book, the could be the surprise "bomb" but that doesn't look too likely
  5. The Kite Runner - tough story. Beloved book. timely subject. hmmmmmmmmmm

alternates: There Will Be Blood, Sweeney Todd, Juno, The Savages, In the Valley of Elah, The Assassination of Jesse James, Once, Waitress, The Golden Compass, Beowulf, Lions For Lambs.

Best Director:
  1. Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country For old Men
  2. Joe Wright - Atonement; just like the film, he's a lock.
  3. Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood; he's never been nominated despite some highly praised films. This could be AMPAS' chance to reward him.......with a nomination...
  4. Tim Burton - Sweeney Todd; see above
  5. Marc Forster - The Kite Runner.
alternates: Adrienne Shelly - Waitress, Paul Haggis - In the Valley of Elah, Andrew Domink - Jesse James, Jason Reitman - Juno

Best Lead Actor:
  1. Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood; because he's Daniel Day-Lewis.
  2. James McAvoy - Atonement; he's the only true "lead" in the whole story and the reviews have been strong.
  3. Tom Hanks - Charlie Wilson's War; the Academy loves him.
  4. Denzel Washington - American Gangster; The Academy loves him.
  5. Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd; another Oscar-less A-lister who could finally be given his dues...
Alternates: Tommy Lee Jones - Elah, Brad Pitt - Jesse James, Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises, Ryan Gosling - Lars and the Real Girl

Best Lead Actress:
  1. Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose; rave reviews for her performance, but only 2 other actresses have ever won for a performance in a foreign language film. The early release date could hurt her too.
  2. Ellen Page - Juno; the funny, witty performance.
  3. Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age; even with sucky reviews for the film, she still got raves. However, the Academy may not favor her since she can't really bring anything new to the role. She didn't win for the first Elizabeth in 1998, why should she win now?
  4. Keira Knightley - Atonement; good reviews for her (maybe she should only work with Joe Wright, since his Pride and Prejudice earned her a first nomination) but she's only in the 2 hour film for about 40 minutes. However, Anthony Hopkins wasn't in Silence of the Lambs that much and still WON for lead, so it could happen.
  5. Laura Linney - The Savages; this is just a guess. The fifth slot is waaaaaay open.
Alternates: Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd, Amy Adams - Enchanted, Halle Berry - Things We Lost in the Fire, Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart, Nicole Kidman - Margot at the Wedding, Julie Christie - Away From Her, Tang Wei - Lust Caution, Keri Russell - Waitress

Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Casey Affleck - Jesse James; the raves are non stop and he steals the show from Pitt. The good press for "Gone Baby Gone" isn't hurting him either.
  2. Javier Bardem - No Country For Old Men; some have been saying he's the best screen villain since Hannibal Lecter. Based on the trailer, I'd say that's probably true. The raves have been non stop for him and they don't seem to be slowing down.
  3. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War; he's in 3 "Oscar Bait" films this year, and if they nominate him, it'll be for the "biggie". And who knows, maybe he'll win an Oscar that he actually deserves! Imagine that!
  4. Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton; because everyone loves a mentally unstable character.
  5. Russell Crowe - American Gangster; possible, though so far it seems that Denzel steals the show.
alternates: Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood, Max Von Sydow - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Armin Muehller Stahl - Eastern Promises, Vincent Cassell - Eastern Promises, John Travolta - Hairspray, Alan Rickman - Sweeney Todd, Ethan Hawke - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Ben Foster - 3:10 to Yuma

Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Jennifer Jason-Leigh - Margot at the Wedding; with the film as a whole getting so so reviews, her lead is starting to shrink, but she still has a good chance.
  2. Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There; her buzz has only increased since the Venice Film Festival, and if AMPAS wants to snub her for The Golden Age, they'll reward her for this film
  3. Saoirse Ronan - Atonement; out of the 3 actresses that play her character, she has gotten the best reviews (even over Vanessa Redgrave). However, AMPAS rarely rewards children, so that could be her downfall.
  4. Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton; great reviews, and with Helena Bonham Carter now being pushed as lead, she has a much stronger chance of getting in.
  5. Julia Roberts - Charlie Wilson's War; AMPAS may want to reward her return to the big screen. How ever, rumors that Roberts' attempt at a Texas accent fall flat could hurt her.
Alternates: Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone, Romola Garai - Atonement, Jennifer Connelly - Reservation Road, Susan Sarandon - In the Valley of Elah, Nicole Kidman - The Golden Compass.

Original Screenplay:
  1. Margot at the Wedding
  2. Eastern Promises
  3. Michael Clayton
  4. The Savages
  5. Juno/Waitress
Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Charlie Wilson's War
  2. Atonement
  3. No Country For Old Men
  4. American Gangster
  5. The Kite Runner
  1. Atonement
  2. American Gangster
  3. Zodiac
  4. The Assassination of Jesse James
  5. Hot Fuzz (hey, it could happen...)
Costume Design:
  1. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  2. The Golden Compass
  3. Sweeney Todd
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera
  1. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  2. The Golden Compass
  3. The Assassination of Jesse James
  4. Atonement
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
alts: Love in the Time of Cholera, There Will Be Blood, Sweeney Todd, Zodiac, 300, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Across the Universe

Art Direction:
  1. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  2. The Golden Compass
  3. Sweeney Todd
  4. Atonement
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
alts: Love in the Time of Cholera, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, There Will Be Blood, 300, Across the Universe

Best Original Score:
  1. Dario Marianelli - Atonement; his Pride and Prejudice score got robbed in 2005. Time for payback. This one's a lock.
  2. Alexandre Desplat - The Golden Compass; the closest thing to a lock outside of Atonement.
  3. Love in the Time of Cholera
  4. Howard Shore - Eastern Promises
  5. Hans Zimmer - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End; the hugely popular Pirates theme music has never won or been nominated. This could be AMPAS' chance to make up for the past snubs....
Original Song:
  1. Falling Slowly - Once; by the end of the year, this will probably be the only place they can honor this beloved little film...
  2. La Despedida or Hay Amores by Shakira - Love in the Time of Cholera
  3. Come So Far - Hairspray
  4. something from Enchanted if the songs are original..
  5. whatever Idina Menzel sings in the closing credits of Beowulf...
Visual Effects:
  1. Transformers; the effects were part of the film's huge buzz, however it has competition in..
  2. The Golden Compass, which has more complex effects with dozens of daemons running, changing, and reacting along with fighting polar bears, and flying witches, along with some stunning shots of the alternate universe London.
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - even bigger and better than Pirates 2, but they already won for it's pretty much out..

"Juno" wins top prize at the Rome Film Festival! Yay!!

So, some good news this morning; Juno, one of several films that could be this year's "Little Miss Sunshine" (not to mention the third film about unexpected pregnancy) took the top prize at the 2nd Annual Rome Film Festival! Ever since I saw the trailer (link to it below) I've been dying to see this movie which looks filled with dry wit and humor. It stars the very appealing Ellen Page (Hard Candy, X-Men 3) as the title character along with Superbad's Michael Cera, Allison Janney, Jennifer Garner, Rainn Wilson, and Jason Bateman. What's really cool though, is that many are beginning to predict Ms. Page for a possible Best Lead Actress Academy Award Nomination, and possibly the win (serious "Oscar Bait" films have been flopping left and right the past few weeks). Now, even though most of the "prestige" films weren't in competition at Rome, it's still cool that this little movie written by a former stripper (no...that's not a joke) managed to beat out the latest Francis Ford Coppola film (which got so so and negative reviews). Gotta love those underdogs....

Juno Trailer

Here's the actual article: U.S. Film 'Juno' Wins Top Award at Rome Festival ROME - Juno, the story of an American teenager dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, won the best film award at the Rome film festival on Saturday. The film is directed by 30-year-old Canadian-born Jason Reitman, best known for his 2005 satirical comedy Thank You For Smoking, which won a string of awards and was nominated for two Golden Globes. Critics praised the performance by actress Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff, the quick-witted young woman plunged into adulthood who tries to find a suitable set of parents to adopt her unborn child. "The film hit the members of the jury with emotion," organizers said. The festival's jury, chaired this year by Bosnian director Danis Tanovic, is made up of 50 moviegoers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Guillermo Del Toro looking to direct Potter 7

So, after seeing 2006's "Pan's Labyrinth" and declaring it the best film of 2006, I began to think that writer/director Guillermo Del Toro would be a great fit for the movie version of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". Apparently...he does too, which is just awesome on all levels seeing as Pan's Labyrinth was really dark and adult, and the Deathly Hallows is quite dark as well. Below in italics is an article with a quote from Mr. Del Toro to MTV about the possibility of directing Potter 7:

I remember hating the first HARRY POTTER film, but since then, they've been getting progressively darker (which is better in my opinion), and so much so in fact, that Guillermo Del Toro - who turned down a chance to direct a POTTER film before - could be convinced to make one. He told MTV, "I’m up to be the one who kills twenty guys... They came to me once, for the third one... I’ve read them all, and when I read the books before the movies were done, I always pictured Charles Dickens - they were very Dickens-ian. The situation of Harry Potter reminded me a lot of Pip from ‘Great Expectations’. I saw them as deeper, more creaky, more corroded; then [the stories] were textured very differently when the first two movies came out. They were so bright and happy and full of light, that I wasn’t interested... They seem to be getting eerie and darker … If they come back to me, I’ll think about it.”

Sounds like a perfect fit to me, Del Toro and a dark HARRY POTTER flick. What do you guys think?

Extra Tidbit: Del Toro turned down the chance to direct both I AM LEGEND and the doomed HALO project to make his HELLBOY sequel.

And speaking of DARK, here’s a picture from that masterpiece of Del Toro’s, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, as well as a picture from Order of the Phoenix, the darkest Potter movie yet. Oddly

Monday, October 22, 2007

Updated Top 10 of 2007

The Best Movies of 2007 as of October 22, 2007

  1. In the Valley of Elah A
  2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford A
  3. Waitress A
  4. Once A
  5. Zodiac A
  6. Lars and the Real Girl A-
  7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix A-
  8. Michael Clayton B+/A-
  9. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End A-
  10. Eastern Promises B+

Best of the Rest:

Across the Universe B+
Hot Fuzz B+
La Vie En Rose B+
Elizabeth: The Golden Age B+
Away From Her B+
3:10 to Yuma B+
Hairspray B+
The Simpsons Movie B+
The Brave One B+
The Bourne Ultimatum B+
Breach B+
Knocked Up B+
Fay Grim B+
300 B+
Ocean’s 13 B+

Number of 2007 releases seen: 34

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl - REVIEW

Sometimes, getting the wrong "message" from a film's trailer can have disastrous results and even ruin the film for the particular viewer. Lars and the Real girl manages to avoid this tragedy. After seeing the trailer multiple times (and laughing a LOT along with the rest of the audience), I was expecting a quirky and very funny Little Miss Sunshine-esque comedy. Not the case. Though the film has its moments of hilarity, its much more sweet (though not sappy *whew*) and touching.

Even though you can probably guess who will end up with who at the end of the movie, the movie succeeds in filling in the blanks and connecting the dots. The story follows Lars (a wonderfully down to earth Ryan Gosling), a very shy man who lives, by his choice, in the garage apartment while his brother (Paul Schneider) and wife (Emily Mortimer) live in the main house. One day, a life size doll shows up at Lars' home, and he falls head over plastic heels, naming the doll Biana, and treating her as a real person. Though confused, his brother and sister-in-law, on the advice of the local psychologist (Patricia Clarkson), go along with it, and eventually the whole town joins in. Though it starts off as a bit of a stretch, the whole ordeal works, specifically because the script is more of a character study of troubled Lars, than a slapstick comedy. Also, the quirky little score is my favorite from any "indie" I've seen this year. The performances are all good, but its Gosling's movie and by the time the film is over, he's the only one giving an award worthy performance (not to put down the rest of the wonderful cast). Several months ago I rented "Fracture" and found Gosling to be incredibly annoying. Now my opinion has completely changed. Maybe he's just that good of an actor...

Too tired to do the whole "breakdown" deal....*yawn*

Grade: A-
Current Nominations: Best Actor - Ryan Gosling (#2), Best Original Screenplay (#3), Best Original Score (#2)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shakira heading for an Academy Award?

So after watching the Love In the Time Of Cholera trailer (posted below) I noticed that it mentioned that the film would feature original songs by Shakira. I would be thrilled to see her get an Original Song nomination (assuming the song/s are good). The only draw back is that this means that "Once" could get passed over for Original Song in favor of a big music superstar (although the Academy did nominate that song from "A Mighty Wind" a few years there's hope).

Love in the Time of Cholera Official Trailer

For a long time people were touting this as a lock for a Best Picture nomination. After watching this, I'd have to say "no". It looks good, but there's something missing that I can't put my finger on....

Friday, October 19, 2007

This Week in TV: Oct 15-19

1. Boston Legal, Season 4, Episode 4: It's funny how first impressions can be wrong. So very very very very very wrong. In BL's season 4 premiere I was unsure of two newcomers, (played by John Laroquette and Tara Summers) and excited about the third (played by Saffron Burrows of Troy). After the fourth episode, my opinion has completely flip-flopped. I love Carl Sach (Laroquette) and Katie Lloyd (Summers) and really wish Loraine (Burrows) would simply get more to do, or just go away (she's so thin, all she'd have to do would be to turn sideways). Sach and Lloyd have proven to be very different, but now very welcome additions to the cast, who are starting to fit in very nicely because of the way they interact with the rest of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt. Loraine (does she even have a last name?) is the square peg in the circular hole. She has done nothing but randomly show up in door ways for no purpose whatsoever, only to make Alan Shore fall dumbstruck and in the process ruining his hilarious "word salad" condition (though not entirely). It's cartoony, it doesn't fit, it's one note, and it needs to go....NOW. Besides, Loraine wouldn't be terribly missed considering the addition of Tarenji P. Henson as New York attorney Whitney, who seems to have much more spark to her. Luckily, Ms. Burrows didn't drag down the whole episode (maybe if she had changed facial expressions?) and two very entertaining cases. The real bonus about this week's episode was finally justifying the existence of Katie Lloyd. Her closing argument was wonderfully written and suited her character perfectly. In episode 2, Alan Shore called Katie Lloyd "brilliant" and I was completely unconvinced. Now I am... Grade: A

2. The Office, Season 4, Episode 4: It would be easy to assume that after 4 hour long episodes, that each one would get progressively worse and worse. Not the case for The Office's constantly surprising writers. The best episode of the season, it actually filled out its hour nicely without to much "flab" in the script. From the perfect opening with Michael trying to emulate Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada" to Jim and Pam's date at Dwight's bed and breakfast, and my favorite moment of the night: a hilarious argument over the difference between "who" and "whom", this one was a complete winner. Grade: A

3. 30 Rock, Season 2, Episode 3: Well, I was right; they pulled through. This was classic 30 Rock filled with great moments including currently overweight Jenna's (Jane Krakowski) perfume commercial for a brand called "enOrme" (accent on that 2nd e), to Jack's (Alec Baldwin) secrect collection of cookie jars, this was the same great writing that made season 1 such a success. Glad to have you back 30 Rock. The only thing this week was missing was more interaction between Tina Fey and Baldwi, but it's forgivable considering how great everything else was. Grade: A+

4. The Colbert Report: He's running for president! Hahahaha! Endlessly entertaining and hilarious as always. Grade: A

5. Ugly Betty, Season 2, Episode 4: It finally redeemed itself, but it's just missing one thing: MORE MARC AND AMANDA!!!! However, it does have the honor of "best quote of the week": "I'd be sympathetic but that's psychically impossible for me." - Willhemina (Vanessa Williams). Also, I loved Victor Garber as Betty's acid tongued writing intstructor, and it was nice to see another appearance from Illeana Douglas as Willhemina's potential replacement....even if she only had 2 lines.. Grade: A-

6. The Sarah Silverman Program, Season 2, Episode 3: She did it! She was hilarious without being gross!!!! As ludicrous and outrageous as ever; I loved it. Grade: A-

7. South Park, Season 11 Part 2, Episode 3: now I have the "imagination song" stuck in my head.... Grade: B+

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reese Witherspoon wants another Oscar

Now if someone can just get her into a screaming match with Cate Blanchett and the results would look something like this:

Reese: just tell me he's OKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

UPDATE - Top Ten

alright, so it's taking up too much space to just repost the same reviews and pictures. From now on I will only do the whole she-bang (pictures/mini-reviews/grades) occasionally, and of course at the end of the year.

The Best Of 2007 as of October 16th, 2007

  1. In the Valley of Elah A
  2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford A
  3. Waitress A
  4. Once A
  5. Zodiac A
  6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix A-
  7. Michael Clayton A-
  8. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End A-
  9. Eastern Promises B+
  10. Across the Universe B+
The Best of the Rest:

Hot Fuzz B+
La Vie En Rose B+
Elizabeth: The Golden Age B+
Away From Her B+
3:10 to Yuma B+
Hairspray B+
The Simpsons Movie B+
The Brave One B+
The Bourne Ultimatum B+
Breach B+
Knocked Up B+
Fay Grim B+
300 B+
Ocean’s 13 B+

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - REVIEW

2007's two major westerns, 3:10 to Yuma and "Jesse James" both open with robberies. The similarities end there. The polar opposite of "3:10 To Yuma" as a western, The Assassination of Jesse James is a slower, more thoughtful, and near action less film that prefers psychological analysis over gunfights. Though it runs at an audience annihilating 2 hrs and 4o mins (much like Zodiac) it is constantly absorbing. However, unlike Zodiac, Jesse James (fantastically directed by newcomer Andrew Dominick) it isn't filled with details to keep you interested. So then how does it keep you interested? A whole array of things ranging from the hypnotic music to the stunning and softly shot scenery to Casey Affleck's spellbinding performance as Jesse James' killer. That's right; Ben Affleck's little brother is actually a pretty damn talented actor. From the time he first appears on screen there is something oddly captivated about him...for the audience. His strange voice leaves you unsure if he's slightly deranged or if he's just a weirdo. As Frank James (older brother of Jesse) remarks after his encounter with Bob Ford, "you give me the willies. Get out of here." From there on, it's a journey that shows us how Bob, a devoted fan of Jesse James (or at least, the Jesse James from stories...) comes to turn on him so he can finally be someone noteworthy and not "always the baby". The film's other title charcter, Jesse James himself might actually get less screen time than Bob Ford, and yet everyone's calling Casey Affleck a lock for best supporting actor. huh? Anyways, Mr. Jolie does a very nice job as Jesse James, particularly in the way he explores the notion/s that James was a bit mentally unbalanced. In one scene, when interrogating a young boy as to the whereabouts of his uncle (a traitor who Jesse was determined to find and kill) he drags the young boy off and beats him, threatening to rip his ear off (um.....ouch?). The boy kicks him off and Jesse, for some reason, releases his grip. As Jesse and his partner proceed to leave, Jesse leans against his horse, visibly in tears. He makes Jesse James a formidable presence; this is not a man you EVER want to cross. However, though his character's name appears first in the title, it's still Affleck's show, whether he's supporting, lead, or co-lead. The scenes leading up to the actual assassination are perfectly executed, with frequent cuts back to Affleck's twitching eyes and sensitive face. I can easily sympathize with those who just found this to be a gorgeous 3 hour snooze, but for me, it's just phenomenal. I only have two complaints. The first is Mary Louise-Parker, who blows her big chance to make the most out of a thankless role with some pretty cringe inducing crying and moaning. The second is the omniscient narrator, who at times summarizes psychological developments among the characters, limiting the chance/s for more depth and emotional heft to be added. This isn't the type of movie that get's you sympathizing for one character or another, it just simply lets you marvel at these extraordinary (though I have no idea how factual the film is) events through a clear looking glass, both figuratively and literally. The breakdown:

1. Acting: good from everyone except Affleck and Louise Parker. He is fantastic. She is anything but. The same way Elizabeth Berridge was the weak link in "Amadeus", she is the weak link here. I was tempted to shout, "you're in a movie with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck's kid brother, you can't afford to be weak!!!"

2. Direction: also fantastic. I have no idea which arsty foreign director Mr. Dominick is mimicking in his style, but it's a great choice.

3. Writing: superb, save for the occasional narrations, which were hit and miss.

4. Production Values: stunning. The cinematography does some great things with light and a limited color pallette and is the real standout. Costumes are great but since they rely on so much black, white, and brown, it's hard for them to be noticed against Elizabethan dresses and exotic pirate clothing.

5. Music: hypnotic, though I don't know how well it would hold up if I listened to it by itself.

Le verdict....

Grade: A

Current Nominations: Best Picture (#2) Best Director - Andrew Dominik (#3), Best Leading Actor - Brad Pitt (#4), Best Supporting Actor - Casey Affleck (#1 WINNER ) Best Adapted Screenplay (#1 WINNER) Best Cinematography (#2), Best Costume Design (#4). I might throw in an editing nomination....but only maybe.....

Away From Her barely misses the top ten..

Best of the Rest:

  1. La Vie En Rose B+
  2. Away From Her B+
  3. Elizabeth: The Golden Age B+
  4. 3:10 to Yuma B+
  5. Hairspray B+
  6. The Simpsons Movie B+
  7. The Brave One B+
  8. The Bourne Ultimatum B+
  9. Breach B+
  10. Knocked Up B+
  11. Fay Grim B+
  12. 300 B+
  13. Ocean’s 13 B+

Away From Her - REVIEW

So last night I sat down to watch Sarah Polley's directorial debut "Away From Her" (on DVD, missed it in theaters) featuring a very buzzed about performance from Julie Christie. The story focuses on Fiona (Christie) and Grant (Gordon Pinsent in an overrated but very good performance) as well as their connection to Mary (Olympia Dukakis; uneven) as Fiona succumbs to Alzheimer's. For the first hour and 15 minutes or so, the film is absorbing, thanks to fantastic shots of the snowy wilderness, as well as the home where Fiona goes to stay. Sarah Polley's camera work is fantastic, particularly in an overhead shot of Christie as she lies down in the snow under leafless trees. The cinematography helps lend a quiet beauty to these scenes, not just with the snow, but also the special Alzheimer's treatment home, where gently blurred white light streams through the windows. Coupled with several slow motion "walking away" scenes, the effect of the light is magical. Where the film goes wrong though, is by entering the realm of "too much of a good thing." Eventually the "slow motion walking away scenes" lose their magic and the film as a whole is too long by about 20 minutes. Ms. Christie's performance is excellent, and that helps the film redeem itself quite a lot, but when Grant starts heavily interacting with Mary (whose husband has Alzheimer's and has found a very close friendship with Fiona) things crumble a bit. Earlier, it is revealed that Grant probably cheated on Fiona once or twice with some of his female students, but that he never left her or stopped loving her. However, when Grant and Mary feel the need to have sex (to comfort each other?) it makes it hard to really feel sorry for Pinsent's character, because it seems like he hasn't truly changed despite his supposed sadness over his separation from Fiona. Once again, the Breakdown.

1. Acting: great performance from Christie, and really makes you feel the struggle/awkwardness of someone with Alzheimer's. Pinsent is good, but the writing undermines his character. Dukakis has some moments of odd line delivery, and a young actress playing a nurse at the home gets nothing to do but reiterate the stages of Alzheimer's (FUN!).

2. Production values: cinematography is the standout. Nothing else matters.

3. Music: delicate and beautiful use of guitar twangs and quiet piano music. It works magically with the scenes, but it's not strong enough to merit any sort of nomination.

4. Direction: marvelous.

5. Writing: uneven, for the reasons stated above.

and ze verdict is

Grade: B+

Current nominations: Best Director - Sarah Polley (#4) ,Best Actress - Julie Christie (#3).

Monday, October 15, 2007

UPDATE Top 10 Movies of 2007 - Oct 14

  1. In the Valley of Elah - In the Valley of Elah - After the fast moving but more in-you-face approach to 2005's "Crash" Paul Haggis slows things down a bit for this thoughtful and profound film. Tommy Lee Jones' performance is sublime as a grieving father and is nicely supported by Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon. Though at first the film seems stuck in nowheres-ville, it continues to build and build until the final horrifying revelation/s. Many films have focused on the tragedies of soldiers over seas, but few explore what can happen when they return home. Grade: A (maybe even A+, but I take a lot of time before giving one of those out).

  2. Waitress - just like last year's Little Miss Sunshine (my #2 of 2006 coincidentally), Waitress shows the magic that can happen when a relatively simple looking formula is done so well that it feels original. Wonderful characters (led by a radiant Keri Russell) and a hilarious and touching script (that never becomes sappy) make this as tasty as any of the pies that Russell's character bakes (some of the best looking food ever put on screen). This was director/writer/actress Adrienne Shelly's last film (she was murdered in late 2006) and it is a great film to be remembered by. Grade: A

  3. Once - even more simple and straightforward than Waitress, Once is a marvelous little film that shows you don't need flashy costumes or big show stoppers (though those are fine in the right situations) to make an absorbing film about music. It's simplicity gives a greater sense of intimacy with the two main characters, referred to only as "man" and "woman". To quote the New York Times, "2 musicians, a simple premise, 88 minutes, and not a single false note." Grade: A

  4. Zodiac - Many would be afraid of a non-action movie with a 2 hr. 45 min running time, and I was too. However, though at its end, you'll feel that Zodiac was long, it was worth it. The amount of detail from the book is brilliantly translated to the screen to provided lots of information that's actually interesting as opposed to wasted breath. As the film builds and builds, the amount of tensions continually increases with each Zodiac killing (though only a few are shown) until it culminates in the most tense scene of the year: The basement scene. I won't spoil it for you, but dear GOD it was great. Acting is very good, but not necessarily worthy of any awards (especially Robert Downey Jr.'s overrated performance), but what really stands out are the writing, directing, and spooky cinematography. Grade: A or A-

  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Of all the Potter films this was the first to ever truly thrill me. It is wonderfully dark, and David Yates often use of close ups, combined with the SUPERB cinematography gives the feeling of nauseating claustrophobia. Art direction is also brilliant, in particular the ministry of magic, and the special effects are definitely the best the series has ever seen. The editing is very crisp, and keeps these moving along briskly, but not to the point that it feels rushed. Because of the remarkable editing, it would've seemed wiser to actually include more of the events in the book, seeing as the editing made this film feel more like 1 hr and 45 min, instead of 2 hrs and 20 minutes. Nicholas Hooper does a very nice job with adapting and adding to the original Harry Potter theme (which is played infrequently) and his theme for Prof. Umbridge is as much a part of the character as Staunton herself. Though a perfectly cast Helena Bonham Carter is somewhat underused as wicked Bellatrix Lestrange, Imelda Staunton is sugary, sweet, and chilling perfection as the new malevolent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Watching her smile sweetly as Harry writes with a quill that acts as a torture device is flat out scary. The three leads have also matured. After being somewhat uneven in Goblet of Fire (Watson in particular), they are all much more competent and comfortable in their roles (though none of them are "great" by any means). New comer Evanna Lynch is good as Luna Lovegood, but the script makes her seem to be simply aloof instead of truly spacey and conspiracy obsessed. Despite its grimness, the script also manages to inject many moments of delight and humor, which help keep the film from being a cinematic depressant. This is without a doubt, one of the best of the summer sequels, and despite feeling a bit short despite its actual running time, it stands as the best (although least accessible to non Potter fans) film in the series. David Yates has reportedly been signed on to direct Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and from what I've just seen, this is definitely a good thing. Grade: A-
  6. Michael Clayton: a very well acted legal thriller that at times leaves things a bit too opaque. The post below contains the full review. Grade: B+/A-

  7. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - so, unlike a great deal of fans, I at least liked all of the Pirates films. I adore the first one, really liked the second one, and really really liked the third (but hopefully final) installment. Even more epic with many visually stunning scenes, the film's greatest success is that it makes the Jack Sparrow character feel fresh again. Even as a big Capt. Jack fan, the "drunk pirate" schtick was starting to wear just a bit thin by the end of "Dead Man's Chest." Now, the loopy protagonist feels new again due to numerous Sparrow hallucinations who at times surround the real Jack. The interactions between them give Jack Sparrow more nuance than ever before. Also on the good side: lots of the wonderful Geoffrey Rush as Capt. Barbossa, Keira isn't annoying any more, Bill Nighy gets to add more to Davy Jones, and the overall conclusion is really satisfying. The bad: some of the special effects (godzilla-Calypso) seemed like they were there just to show off, some of the scenes just seemed random (Norrington's death) and of course, Orlando Bloom is just a tad too bland. Strangely, I find this to be the least humorous of the three movies, but it's my second favorite of the trilogy. Go figure... Grade: A-

  8. Eastern Promises - first off, I H-A-T-E-D David Cronenberg's last film, A History of Violence (2005), so I was glad that he redeemed himself here. Though Naomi Watts suffers from a weak character, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, and Armin Muehller-Stahl are superb, especially Mortensen. In essence, this thing is The Godfather set in London with the Russian mob as opposed to the Italians. My only complaint: okay Mr. Cronenberg, you like harcore violence, we get it. Now just tone it down some. Grade: B+
  9. Across the Universe - It's official, Julie Taymor is the visual genius of our time. Her inventive musical takes a different approach; instead of creating a story and weaving in the songs of the Beatles, she derives a story from the songs. The story isn't terribly original (boy meets girl, they fall in love, the get separated, etc...) but it's works because of the tremendous visual inventiveness. It's also a great deal of fun listening to a bunch of different voices sing the Beatles' songs and it gives them a much needed breath of fresh air. This is one filled with memorable scenes that might even require multiple viewings... Grade: B+

  10. Hot Fuzz - the bottom line: it's better made, written, directed, and acted than 99% of the film that its spoofing. Hysterical send up of "buddy cop" movies filled with a fantastically fast moving and witty screenplay. One of the best comedies of 2007 so far. God I love the Brits. Grade: B+

Best of the Rest:
  1. La Vie En Rose B+
  2. Elizabeth: The Golden Age B+
  3. 3:10 to Yuma B+
  4. Hairspray B+
  5. The Simpsons Movie B+
  6. The Brave One B+
  7. The Bourne Ultimatum B+
  8. Breach B+
  9. Knocked Up B+
  10. Fay Grim B+
  11. 300 B+
  12. Ocean’s 13 B+