Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Trying something a little different, the producers had the contestants all sing their first song (they got to go twice tonight) without interruption before the judges made comments. Unfortunately, Paula, always a reliable source for an awkward moment or two, gave David Cook (or was it Jason?) two reviews, before Simon interrupted and told her that each contestant had only sung once thus far. The moment was slightly funny, slightly awkward (ok...incredibly awkward), and really weird. Actually, that kind of sums up the whole night.
EVERYONE: C+/C After round one was over, I realized that none of the performances had gotten any reaction, good or bad, out of me. Had they all been hit with tranquilizers, or had they simply spent too much time with Paula(I've heard idiocy is highly contagious)? No one did much to make me pay attention; no superstars, and no train wrecks. Jason was....the usual, David Cook gave probably the "best" performance, Brooke looked uncomfortable, David Archuleta was B-L-A-N-D, and Syesha was....herself. I think that's all I need to say. Honestly, after the first round I was ready to have my eardrums bombarded with Carly's vocal gymnastics again.......
Jason Castro: *snnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooore*. But seriously, this was Jason at his most boring and predictable. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't anything memorable....it wasn't really much of anything. As Paula said (oh god...I'm quoting Paula....shoot me now), Jason needs to step outside his comfort zone. Grade: C
David Cook: FINALLY. After six blah performances, the grunge rocker finally woke the audience from it's coma. It wasn't great, but it was very good, and it actually HELD MY ATTENTION (in a good way)! Grade: B
Brooke White: much better, although I still think she shouldn't play instruments when she sings. She should put all her energy into singing. But still, I liked it enough to give her a pass. However, I have to take issue with the small lyrical "plot hole" in her song. Following Neil Diamong's suggestion that she change "my home is New York" to "Arizona" (Brooke's home state), it contrasted with a later line of lyrics: "between LA and my hom; caught between two coasts). ummmmmmmmmm......... Grade: B
David Archuleta: yawn. I can't believe he pulled a Kristy and brought out the big American flag in the background. That's all that needs to be said. However, I'm actually annoyed more at Randy, who called both of David's performances "DA BOMB!" Maybe all those recordings with Mariah Carey have made Randy go deaf..... Grade: C
Syesha: I refuse to write more than this sentence. Grade: C
Bottom Two: Syesha and Brooke
Going Home: Brooke
Oh, and I felt the need to add THIS:
Monday, April 28, 2008
It's hard to believe that Stanley Kubrick, the man who brought us such wild and bizarre films as A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey could also direct the quintessential black comedy. The entire cast does such a great job of playing their roles with such straight faces that some of the funniest lines don't hit until a few seconds (or even minutes) after they've been uttered; this is probably the type of comedy that gets funnier with repeated viewings. The story, for those not aware, concerns a deranged US general who orders a fleet of B-51 bombers to attack Russia at the height of the Cold War. His second in command, Col. Mandrake (Peter Sellers), tries to get the Gen. Ripper to divulge the call-back code, while the President (Sellers again) and Gen. Turginson (George C. Scott) meet with other officials at the Pentagon's War Room. While inside the room they try and explain the mistake to the drunken Russian premier, while also seeking advice from former Nazi Dr. Strangelove (Sellers again, completing his brilliant trifecta). As I said, the way the actors play everything with such grim resolve adds to the brilliance of the film, because there aren't any cutesy "wink wink nudge nudge" moments. While the audience may be laughing at the film's dark satire of the Cold War, the characters are stuck in a perpetual state of dread for the possible nuclear holocaust. Filled with memorable scenes and great comedic performances, this is one comedy that is just as brilliant today as it was 30 years ago.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
- labeling this movie as a horror/thriller film is incredibly misleading. There are tense moments and a few good jolts, but it's not written as a thriller. It's more of a supernatural tale of loss (and a well executed one at that).
- Belen Rueda gives a very good performance.
- J.A. Bayona's direction is remarkably elegant and restrained, and complimented by the lovely cinematography.
- it's a shame Picturehouse didn't market it more; it could have done decently at the box office.
Nomiations: Best Foreign Language Film (#2)
Number of 2007 films seen: 61
Friday, April 25, 2008
........I hated the first 20 minutes of it......the rest was so overwhelmingly I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around it.
one coherent thought I can put together is that Malcolm McDowell truly gives one of the most astonishing performances of all time.
- Tim Burton really should do more gory, eccentric, Gothic, R-rated movies like this and Sweeney Todd. The leap in quality between the two is monumental. I'd love to see how good a third "dark film" would be.
- it's nice to see Johnny Depp play (more or less) the "straight" man for once.
- costumes, sets, and cinematography are all simple, but great.
- Christina Ricci and the actor who played Young Johnny Masbeth were both pretty stilted, but not enough to ruin the movie.
- unlike Sweeney Todd (and most of Burton's recent efforts), this one occasionally lags (in the editing), and doesn't quite feel up to speed with the better cut Sweeney, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Corpse Bride.
- like The Others (2001), this is a film the heavily relies on ambiance, and would probably have been more effective in a dark theater with surround sound.
Nominations (for 1999): Best Picture(#3), Best Director - Tim Burton(#3), Best Art Direction (#1 WINNER), Best Costume Design (#1 WINNER), Best Cinematography (#2; loses to Fight Club), Best Original Score - Danny Elfman (#3), Best Sound Editing/Sound Mixing
Thursday, April 24, 2008
After years of seeing bits and pieces of The Shining (aka: the mother of all good horror films) I finally lifted myself out of my sunken position in my living room sofa and picked up the film at Blockbuster (you're welcome in advance for the free press). Even after seeing all those fragments, watching the whole film to completion was still a wonderfully surprising and frightening experience. Jack Nicholson does a brilliant job at transforming from a clean cut family man to a deranged killer. Kubrick's gliding tracking shots are a nice touch, and can function so as to be calming, unnerving, or flat out menacing. Perfectly matching the camera work is the music, which is erratic, chaotic, strange, and brilliantly unsettling. Perhaps what makes "The Shining" truly brilliant though, is the story itself. Few horror films have so many memorable scenes: "redrum", "Here's Johnnie!", the twin girls, the woman in the bath tub, the list goes on. One aspect of the film I really want to examing (briefly) is
expect Kubrick fest to continue in the weeks to come with A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, and more!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
This week (just yesterday actually) the Top 6 contestants had to perform songs composed by the king of broadway himself: Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Apparently the producers of the show have run out of ideas, because they're now resorting to theme weeks that are bound to cause trouble. First Mariah Carey week (where contestants face comparisons to the original), and now Lloyd Webber week (when Simon calls a performance "broadway-ish", it means that one isn't really relevant to music). Luckily, the night turned out to be better than the corny trainwreck I predicted it would be, though it wasn't great. This show just isn't the same since Michael left. And poor Kristy Lee Cook (who I was never a fan of) got kicked off after her best performance (it wasn't great but still). Anyways, here's the report card:
1. Syesha Mercado - "One Rock N' Roll Too Many". Aside from the fact that she kept pronouncing "many" as "men-AY", I actually liked Syesha (for once). She was perhaps the smartest contestant this week, because she chose a Lloyd Webber song that A) not many people are familiar with, and B) allowed her to be really lively and expressive. I was certainly a nice reprieve after three weeks of watching her sing on her ass the whole time. Towards the end she did remind me why I still don't like her; one of the final big notes sounded flat and thin (but apparently being loud makes that okay in Randy's mind). I also give her bonus points for getting rid of that explosive afro hairdo. Grade: B+
2. Jason Castro - "Memory" from Cats. Immediately following the smartest song choice of the night was the dumbest choice of the night. I gave Jason the benefit of the doubt at first, but after 30 seconds the flaws became obvious. His vocals lacked the raw emotion that the song is built upon, and it came across as laid back (hmmmm...kind of like ALL HIS PERFORMANCES INCLUDING THE GOOD ONES) instead of being passionate. He chose a song that people are SO familiar with (it finds its way onto many a Top 100 songs list) and tried to "Castro-fy" it. Unfortunately, Castrofication was the last song that "Memory" needed, and Simon nailed it when he said, "that was the longest two minutes of my life". It wasn't terrible, mainly because he sounded alright, but the gravitas and understanding of the words was MIA. Grade: C
3. Brooke White - "You Must Love Me" from Evita (movie version only). This seemed like a perfect fit for Brooke, and honestly I think it could have been. Then the unthinkable happened: she stopped 10 seconds in, and started over. For the SECOND time in the competition, Brooke had an early memory malfunction and it made for an awkward few seconds as she regrouped and started over. That said, I give Brooke some credit. First, even though some of her vocals were off, she did manage to capture the emotion of the song, and it saved the performance from being a train wreck. Had she not fumbled at the start, this could have been one of her better performances. I just hope America doesn't let her mistake send her packing this week. On another random thought, this song won Lloyd Webber an Oscar. Hmmm...maybe the producers should consider a "Best Original Song Winner" theme...... Grade: B-
4. David Archuletta - "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera. Another gender swapping performance, although this time it worked. I'll admit, for the first 15 seconds I was writhing in my seat as I listened to the song get a complete makeover, but once that passed I really liked what Archuletta did with the song. He finally ended his streak of boring performances! Grade: A-
5. Carly Smithson - "Jesus Christ Superstar" - from Jesus Christ Superstar. Carly left me puzzled this week. I liked what she did with the verses, but when she reached the chorus everything fell apart. The panting, the pauses, the back-and-forth-lyric-juggling with the backup singers...none of it worked; it broke the flow and melody of the song. I have to take more points off for Carly's renewed attempts at the Vocal Olympics. Wherever she could squeeze in an arbitrary "Oh!" or "yeeeeeah!", by God she did. Blurg. Grade: B
6. David Cook - "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. This was actually the song I'd hoped Michael would sing, but I was happy enough to have his grunge-rock counterpart do it in his unfortunate absence. It wasn't great, but I really liked it.....until the very very last note. I understand that the contestants need to "put their own stamp" on a song, but they also need to know where in the song to do it. Sorry David, but changing the final note from a slow, fading "niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight" into a rock n' roll power note ("NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!") was just wrong. Grade: B+
Prediction for tonight:
- Bottom Three: Jason, Brooke, Carly
- Going Home: Jason or Brooke
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Superhero origin stories are usually a drag. After all, do we really want to see how Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider or how the Fantastic Four gets bombarded with gamma rays whilst adrift in space?
Not really. Audiences just want to get to the good stuff straight away — Fantastic Four’s The Thing clobbering Dr. Doom — without any dull exposition.
Too much exposition and too little action pay-off threaten to derail Iron Man, but the origin story is so intrinsic to the character and the plot that there is no way getting around it. After all, then Iron Man would just be some guy in a robot suit. Instead he is Tony Stark, billionaire playboy owner of Stark Industries, one of the U.S.’s biggest military weapons producers. Stark (Robert Downey, Jr. in an energetic performance) is kidnapped by some terrorists after demonstrating some of Stark Industry’s latest military technology to top brass in Afghanistan.
Ah, how the sands of global politics have shifted. In the Reagan years Afghan militia were the heroes in movies such as Rambo III. Here they are the villains. (In the original 1960s Stan Lee comic books Stark was captured by the Vietcong.) The Afghan villains here are however depoliticised. They seem to have no radical Islamic political agenda and are merely generic bad guys. All they want is power for the sake of it. What they are going to do once they get power is a bit of a mystery. Thus there is no America being the “Great Satan” speeches by the head villain. Just a lot of vague grousing about becoming the next Genghis Khan stuff — nothing to overtly alienate potential Muslim audiences.
The Mujadin, er sorry, Afghan bad guys force the captive Stark into building a new high-tech missile system for them. How they realistically expected him to build a piece of leading-edge technology for them in a cave using a blast furnace is a bit of mystery. One can see that it is all written by the same screenplay writers who expect audiences to buy what happens next: instead of building the missile for them, Stark builds an super-powered iron bodysuit right under their noses. The bodysuit is bulletproof, can fly and boasts a flamethrower too. Pretty impressive for what seems to be a few days’ work!
"What makes Iron Man work is an electrifying performance by Robert Downey, Jr . . ."
Stark uses the suit to escape and eventually winds up back in the States where he announces in a informal press conference that Stark Industries will be quitting the lucrative weapons manufacture business; something which he decided upon after realizing that the Afghan baddies have been supplied with Stark weapons all along, probably by someone within the company itself. That “someone” turns out to be his second-in-command, Obadiah Stane (played by a bald Jeff Bridges). It seems that Bridges’ cigar-chomping power-suited baldy is (surprise! surprise!) the villain all along and has actually ordered a hit on Stark so that he can take control of the company. Stane also discovers what Tony Stark has been up to since he came back from captivity in Afghanistan, namely secretly building a more advanced prototype of the metal suit he used to escape. Naturally Stane builds an even bigger metal robot (named Iron Monger, but never called that in the movie) with which Iron Man faces off during the film’s climax.
There is a noticeable dip in the action once Stark returns to the States and starts building his second robot suit, especially since we have already sat through some scenes of him having built the first suit. However Downey Jr.’s charismatic performance, some unexpected humor and exceptional special effects pull the movie through these scenes so that we can get to the mano-a-mano super-powered robots battle towards the end. These scenes are well-done, but pales somewhat to the fight scenes in last year’s Transformers.
But CGI robot fight scenes aren’t what Iron Man is about. What makes the movie work (and it does work despite its mistakes) is an electrifying performance by Robert Downey, Jr., clever and witty dialogue plus some neat special effects and some nice humorous touches. Ideally one should hate the cocky and obnoxious Stark, especially during the movie’s early scenes in which one is confronted by his envy-inducing playboy lifestyle. We are supposed to hate sleazy weapons manufacturers, right? Yet Downey, Jr. actually makes us like Stark. This is Downey’s movie and he carries it through with aplomb. The supporting cast (also including Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow as loyal sidekicks) do okay, but actually have very little to do. This is Downey’s show, and the other actors seem to realise this and never try to steal the movie from him.
The first real blockbuster of 2008, Iron Man is fluff. But it is hugely entertaining fluff. Less of a butt-numbing experience than Spider-man 3, but more substantial than Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer, Iron Man clocks in at 126 minutes. Despite that small dip in the action, the running time is just about right. Audiences looking for grand escapist fare at cinemas this summer won’t mind having spent their price of admission on it. Be sure to get some popcorn too . . .
- The film’s politics are astoundingly naïve in the way it ignores the realities of the global weapons business. For a more realistic view, check out Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage. In a way it is a mistake getting Iron Man involved in “everyday” stuff such as fixing global wrongs. Does this mean that he is going to solve all of our wars for us? Should he have been called Globocop instead? Iron Man should ideally be battling supervillains and evil masterminds.
- In a way Iron Man is the ultimate wish-fulfilment role model for picked-upon adolescents. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a super-rich billionaire, have chicks all over them and use their money to become a real-life superhero and kick peoples’ asses?
- Famously in the comics Stark fought a battle with alcoholism. In this movie he chugs down a lot of booze in his “pre-hero” phase, but seems to sober up as soon as he becomes Iron Man.
- The movie ends somewhat abruptly and will probably have audiences wanting more . . .
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Even as a fan of Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge", I was worried that he might not be able to pull off something more.....normal. But after watching these first two installments......wow....looks exciting and beautiful.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Stanley Kubrick is my god now. I mean......WOW.
- the use of music was genius and added to the mood of the scenes brilliantly
- on the other end of the spectrum, there's also brilliant use of lack of sound.
- building on the last point: steady breathing, when isolated, is one of the most unnerving sounds ever.
- the special effects have actually held up pretty well.
- HAL 9000, with his soft, calm voice, is one of the most terrifying characters ever created.
- the final act has to be one of the most bizarre and mind blowing sequences I've ever seen
- the only thing I didn't care for was the second segment (with doctor Heywood traveling to the space station/going to the government meeting/going to the Lunar Base), which really could have been trimmed down quite a bit.
Forget Juno, because this is the quirkiest movie of last year. While John Turturro's directorial debut makes occasionally succeeds simply because it's so incredibly strange. Nick Murder (Jason Gandolfini of "The Sopranos") is a married man who cheats on his wife Kitty (Susan Sarandon) with a fiery red headed prostitute named Tula (Kate Winslet, completely cutting loose). Of course, Kitty finds out (in the very first scene of the film), and everything after that is simply the results of Nick's affair. Kitty and Nick's daughters (Mary Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, and Mandy Moore) turn against him, while Nick's co-worker (Steve Buscemi) advises him to use his estrangement to have as much sex as he can. Parts are odd, parts are funny, and some of it just flat out doesn't make any sense. That said, it's fun to watch the diverse cast start singing/lip-singing to songs from Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, and a host of others.
While the story threads of Gandolfini, Winslet, and Sarandon are handled well, Turturro fumbles the ball with the three daughters; Mary Louise Parker is wasted, and Mandy Moore's wedding sub plot adds next to nothing. However, in spite of its flaws and its overabundance of quirk, this weird little movie is quite enjoyable, and hints that Mr. Turturro could become a very promising talent behind the camera with a bit more practice.
Grade: a flaming hot "B"
Number of 2007 Films Seen: 61
Friday, April 11, 2008
The world is truly an unfair place. Of all the recent comedies that are in some way connected to Writer/Director/Producer Judd Apatow, Walk Hard is easily the best one. Aside from John C. Reilly's wonderful performance (that Golden Globe nomination was truly deserved), the film succeeds on another level. While movies (if they can be called that) like "Epic Movie" and "Superhero Movie" come off as nothing more than a bunch of lame Saturday Night Live skits stretched on for infinity, Walk Hard manages to be an effective parody and a stand alone film. Even without the recent deluge of musical biopics (Ray, Walk the Line, etc...) this still would have been funny. It's not some pop-culture referencing free for all, but rather a hilariously silly send up of any and all dramatic "triumph over adversity" stories. Oh, and there's one other detail that makes it the best Judd Apatow movie: It isn't 20 minutes too long! It's only and hour and a half or so!!
Nominations: none (I'd like to give it a screenplay nomination, but there's just no room)
Number of 2007 Films Seen: 60
Thursday, April 10, 2008
congratulations American Idol voters (I say voters because I watch the show avidly, but never vote), you just proved how stupid you are once again. You let lesser contestants like Syesha and Kristy sail on through while Michael Johns (who has more singing talent in a hiccup than those two have in their entire bodies) got sent home in season 7's FIRST IDOL SHOCKER. This borders on the unforgivable. Damn it.....now it won't be as enjoyable to watch next week's show. I really wanted to see what Michael would do on Andrew Lloyd Webber week....GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I've actually been meaning to write about this season of American Idol, since it's the first time I've watched a season from the very first auditions episode. I missed the opportunity to blog about some great moments and performances, and it's a shame considering this has been a nice upturn after season 5 and 6's "kinda pitchy" finalists. Unlike those seasons, there's no one who's downright terrible. Well, tonight had the top 8 singing inspirational songs because this week is the second annual idol gives back charity event; poor countries in Africa get loads of money, and Ford and Coca-Cola make EVEN MORE on their ubiquitous advertisements and product placements. First up tonight was......
1. Michael Johns - "Dream On" by Aerosmith. I've been a fan of the Australian-turned-American ever since I saw him audition before the judges in Atlanta. He's got a great voice, performs well, and simply has...well...presence when he's moving/bouncing around on stage. After hitting a high point in Hollywood week with a stellar rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody", he kind of sunk into "good but not great" territory throughout the Top 24, and the first few weeks of the Top 12. Two weeks ago he got his groove back, and last week he set the bar even higher. This week, he didn't manage to top himself, but he managed to deliver the strongest performance of the night. He sounded great, he got to show off his rocker side (what is Randy's problem with Michael rocking out? Can Randy only handle him singing blues-rock-R&B? sheesh), and he even managed to pull off some of those insane high notes that Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler is famous for.
Grade: B+ (again, best of the night, which should give you an indicator of how "meh" the night was as a whole).
2. Syesha Mercado - "I can Dream" (or something like that). Once again singing a BIG song by someone with a BIG voice, I have to give Syesha credit: for once, I almost/kinda/sorta liked it. I still don't understand why Randy keeps lavishing praise on her vocals...she's really got a pretty tinny sounding voice (those high notes are painful). Even though it was her best performance, I still really think she just needs to go home. That, and I really wish she would stop with that obnoxious, self satisfied smile she always has on her face after she performers.
3. Jason Castro - "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The dread locked goofball's performance was probably the most puzzling of the night. I'm still shocked that SIMON called it "fantastic". It wasn't bad, but it came off as too lightweight, even though Jason did sound good. However, the eukalale (sp?) was really distracting (similar to when Brooke used it on "Love is a Battlefield"). He should be safe this week, though if he can't break his laid back folksy mould anytime soon, he'll be in big trouble.
4. Kristy Lee Cook - don't remember the song. Once again, the bland white wonder chose to sing another Bible-belt pleasing country-ish song (the word's prayer and God were squeezed into almost every other verse) in an attempt to save herself. Like Syesha, she doesn't deserve to be in the Top 12, but it was one of her better performances. That said, at her best this girl is just so friggin' bland...it makes me wonder how she's survived week after week in the bottom three. America must be really desperate to give it's last remaining GWB (generic white bitch) of this season as many chances as possible...
5. David Cook - "Innocent" I started out not liking this grungy rocker at all. After one of his Top 24 performances I became a fan. Soon, he stole all of Michael's mojo and started turning in great performance after great performance....until this week. He didn't fall flat on his face, but he stumbled pretty badly. The song really didn't do much for me, and David spent so much time jumping from low notes to ear piercing falsetto that it was jarring. I don't mind when Idol contestants walk out into the audience, but David pushed it over the edge when he finished by raising his palm, where he had written, "Give Back". I had one of those sudden urges to just reach through the TV screen and slap him. I was even more disappointed when even Simon didn't call him out for the hand writing. Luckily, the judges did call him out. However, he's turned in so many good performances that his fan base will easily keep him safe for this one major blunder.
Grade: C/C- (gah...I hate having to write that about him)
6. Carly Smithson - "The Show Must Go On" by Queen. Another great song, but alas, for Carly is was well....so predictable. That and she resumed her attempts and winning the Vocal Olympics by throwing in unnecessary "oh yeeeeeeah!"s in between lyrics just to show off her voice. Only problem is, they felt forced, and her voice got really thin in her upper range. I don't think she'll go home, but she's been on a downward spiral ever since "Blackbird". Shame. She does have a good voice.
7. David Archuleta - "Angels". The boy wonder took the stage with a piano this week, and even though he sounded good, the song did absolutely nothing for me. Of course, the judges fawned over it, and the fan girls squealed. David just kept licking his lips like he does every week (can someone get this guy some f-ing chap stick for Christ's sake!?). Anyway, second best performance of the night, song choice being the big error.
8. Brooke White - can't remember the song even though I've heard it a million times. I really like this singing nanny. She's got a really nice voice and she's done some great things with great songs, but this was not one of her bests. It wasn't awful but as Simon and Randy said, it was pleasant...it was nice....was it great or original?...not really...but it was nice. Hopefully she'll stick around next week.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
There are quite a few things wrong with Leatherheads. It goes on too long, it takes itself too seriously in some parts, and it's always one or two steps behind the proper pace it needs to be if it wants to be an old fashioned screwball comedy/romance. The screenplay has a number of good verbal tennis matches filled with zingers being traded every other line, but somehow the whole thing feels just a bit....mild. There are some moments that work, such as a police raid on a speakeasy, but most of the time Leatherheads is always falling just short of what it wanted to achieve, despite the number of small saving graces. However, sometimes parts just don't gell; I never in a million years would believe that John Krasinski would have the hots for Renee Zellweger, for instance. That, and almost every scene seems so drenched in brown that even Zellweger's red dresses don't "pop" like they should. That said, it's a perfectly fine way to spend a few hours, but it just feels like too much of the time the actors are visibly trying to be smart alecky/witty and that it doesn't come naturally enough to them. They don't fail at pulling it off, they just don't aim high enough. Parts of the screenplay have some great exchanges, but as I said, the line delivery never makes the dialogue spark like it should, and as a result, the film never sparks like it should. This easily should have been a better film than "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" because of the dialogue and the lack of awkward spaces between funny moments, but because the actors never truly succeed (whereas "Pettigrew"'s cast was sublime), the whole thing falls short. It can be an enjoyable experience, but only once you get over the fact that someone/thing went and gave the film a wit-ectomy.
Current Nominations: Best Picture (#3), Best Director - George Clooney(#3), Best Actor - George Clooney(#3), Best Actor - John Krasinski (#4), Best Actress - Renee Zellweger (#3), Best Costume Design(#2), Best Original Score - Randy Newman(#3).
Number of 2008 films seen: 4
Friday, April 4, 2008
When I saw Zodiac back at the beginning of 2007, I made it my mission to remember the director's name and see what other movies he had directed. Unfortunately, with so many other good films to see from last year, I got sidetracked, and only remembered my "mission" when I made my nominations for the "Texan" awards, and deemed Zodiac worthy of a Best Director nomination. After five seconds of research (thanks Internet!) I found the name I was looking for: David Fincher. I looked at his filmography and was surprised to see that he directed two movies that I had heard about and seen posters/dvds countless times, but never had any idea they were directed by the same man. Those two films are Seven(1995), and Fight Club(1999). I didn't really know when I was going to find time to rent either of the two movies, but fate had something else in mind. In the last five minutes of my Algebra II class, one of my friends asked me if I had seen Fight Club. I said no, but that I wanted to, and without hesitation he pulled out the dvd from his backpack. Now, after sitting down for almost 2 and a half hours, I'm glad to say that Mr. Fincher has impressed me yet again, even though I'm still scratching my head about a few things. I won't give away too much about the plot, seeing as well....maybe I should just stop there. A bit of advice: don't do any "background research" before seeing the film, because you could ruin part of it. Nevertheless the film is hugely entertaining, wonderfully acted, brilliantly directed, and uses music to a brilliant and somewhat unnerving effect. Just like in Zodiac, the cinematography features very similar, yet still subtly different uses of muted greens, grey-blues, and softly filtered light (specifically from things like street lamps) to give many scenes an odd, grungy sort of "glow". The story...well, don't let the title fool you. By the time it's over you won't know what hit you. Edward Norton is absolutely amazing and so are Brad Pitt (who I'm not the biggest fan of) and Helena Bonham Carter. While I think Zodiac is the superior movie, Fight Club easily wins in the acting department. I am Jordan's badly rushed/written review.
Nominations (for 99 obviously): Best Picture (#2), Best Director - David Fincher (#2), Best Actor - Edward Norton (#1 WINNER), Best Actor - Brad Pitt (#3), Best Supporting Actress - Helena Bonham Carter (#2), Best Adapted Screenplay(#1 WINNER), Best Editing (#2), Best Cinematography (#1 WINNER), Best Sound Editing/Mixing (#1 WINNER)
The Oscar-winning pair are in talks to join Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Sophia Loren in Rob Marshall's adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical.
The 1982 show, itself an adaptation of Federico Fellini's autobiographical opus "8 1/2," revolves around a film director (Bardem) juggling the demands of several women in his life.
The Weinstein Co. project was slated to begin principal photography in March but was postponed when the late writer-director Anthony Minghella didn't have enough time to rework Michael Tolkin's screenplay before the WGA strike. Extra work was needed to coordinate the choreography and Maury Yeston's music and lyrics with a new draft. The film is now tentatively scheduled for a September start.
Kidman is due to give birth in the summer, giving her several months of maternity leave before the film's proposed start date. Her filming also might be scheduled in the latter part of the shoot.
Plenty of people are familiar with Kidman's singing and dancing chops from "Moulin Rouge," but far fewer are aware of Dench's extensive musical theater experience. She played Sally Bowles in the original London production of "Cabaret" in 1968, and won the 1995 Olivier Award for best actress in a musical in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music."
Kidman is repped by CAA. Dench is repped by Julian Belfrage & Associates and manager Gene Parseghian.
Javier Bardem, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, AND Judi Dench, all in the same movie? If those last two ladies sign on, this will be one of the most talented casts ever assembled for a musical.