What movie was that...?

31 March 2010

Purple Rain

directed by Albert Magnoli

Prince, back when he was the artist currently known as Prince, rocks his way into the musical stratosphere (where only the most righteous can survive) in Albert Magnoli’s rock drama for the ages.  Prince bosses up as The Kid, hot shit warmup act to Morris Day and his band, The Time. If The Kid doesn’t shape up and play for the crowd, he could get the boot. Enter Apollonia, bright eyed and eager to make a name for herself, too. Should she let The Kid help her (since he’s soooo dreamy), or is she willing to let Morris help her, at any cost? Yeesh, I sound like the back of the video box, but this ridiculous and fun film showcases the sexy MF in his stage humping, androgynous, freaky, Revolution-y prime, complete with a stare that could set anyone’s loins aquiver. Yes, you heard me right. Not to mention that the film features one of the best soundtracks ever, Razzies be damned. 

29 March 2010

44 Inch Chest

directed by Malcolm Venville

If you have watched the trailer for this film, then you are aware that Sexy Beast writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto penned this gangster stroke comedy stroke drama thing called 44 Inch Chest, starring Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Stephen Dillane and Ian McShane. And if you did watch the trailer, then you may have sensed that someone was trying to a little too hard to sell the film to you. Your spidey sense served you well if that’s the case, because 44 Inch Chest is as anticlimactic as they come. Actually, anticlimactic is an understatement; we’re talking about a complete and utter climactic vacuum in which nothing can escape. Though the film features a dazzling cast and a strangely promising premise (Winstone finds himself on the chump end of an affair and calls in the support of his sinister buddies to hold his hand as he attempts to exact mortal revenge on the guy who did the deed with his wife), the film fails to deliver. Don’t get me wrong, the movie has its moments, but they are nothing more than wink into the camera flashes that seem to assume a level of cool that simply did not match the reality of this film. Amid the monsoon of Cockney vulgarity and twisted cutsieness, talents like McShane, Hurt and Winstone flex their muscles with wonderful effect, but whole story just left me cream crackered, pissed and without a sense of finality. But perhaps I’m just one me Jack Jones about the film.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

directed by Cristian Mungiu

Don’t let the title fool you, this hellish glimpse of life under a dying Communist regime is one of those twenty four hour films that stick with you. Taking place over the course of one day in the life two college roommates, Cristian Mungiu’s film tells the story of an illegal abortion, a steel strong friendship, and the suffocating force of an overreaching ideology that seems to saturate everything. Adding to this effect is cinematographer Oleg Mutu, who gives the film an aesthetic that seems to drain the life from you, much like Hoyte Van Hoytema’s work in Let the Right One In. This one is not to be missed, but you have to really want it. Don’t just pick it up for a bit of light viewing.

25 March 2010

Legend

directed by Ridley Scott

What can one say about Ridley Scott’s strange, sparkly, and surreal “fairy film” (his term)? I can say this: Tom Cruise, at this very moment, is probably still finding glitter in provocative regions of his anatomy that can be traced back to Legend. Cruise plays Jack, forest dweller and friend of all its creatures. Jack has a surprise for Princess Lily (an enchanting Mia Sara), and takes her to get a load of a pair of unicorns. Meanwhile, the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry, topping, if that’s possible, his performance from The Rocky Horror Picture Show), desiring to cover the land in a second, eternal ice age, senses the presence of innocence and sends a lackey named Blix to kill the unicorns and kidnap the Princess. It’s a battle between good and evil, light and darkness, told in the only way Ridley Scott knows, and the result is a combo of eye candy and indefinably uncomfortable moments. But Mia Sara is the essence of loveliness, Tim Curry is the bee’s knees (again, nice terminology, Mr. S) and the young Cruise we see in Legend has his whole life ahead of him. If only someone could warn him about Scientology, and glibness. Stay away from the Hubbard, Tom! But you were amazing in Magnolia, and Vanilla Sky! But seriously, Scott’s film is visually stunning, as all R. Scott films are, and in Legend we glimpse Scott at his sappiest and, perhaps, most pure.
Recommendation: If you have the time, I highly recommend getting your double feature on with Legend and Jim Henson’s fantasy curio, Labyrinth, starring a young Jenifer Connolly and a David Bowie packing some serious heat (hint: check the crotch piece in his tights). Don’t look at it directly, or you’ll go blind.

24 March 2010

The Burton Theatre

Breaking symmetry here, but for good reason:

Metro Detroiters, if you’re like me, you regularly find yourself scanning the movie section of the newspaper, or scrolling down theater websites and saying to yourself “I wish there was something else out there to watch. Something strange. Something indie. Something that really cooks.” Well, look no further, because The Burton has heard your call, good reader. Armed with excellent proprietors, a perfectly fitting location (the old site of the Burton International Academy) and a uniquely surreal venue, The Burton Theatre is pleased to present Detroiters with genuine art house atmosphere and art house cinema. Having been out of town over the holidays, I missed The Burton’s grand opening in October, and I was only able to get down there recently to see the David Lynch/Werner Herzog oddity My Son My Son, What Have Ye Done (btw, totally worth seeing), and what an experience it was. As I pulled into the parking lot for the first time, I noticed a sign, festooned with Christmas lights, on a fence that read “Burton Theatre, Enter Here,” and an arrow pointing around the corner of a massive brick school. I made my way down the narrow path and around said corner, and happened upon another sign that beckoned me around yet another corner. I began to suspect that strange things were afoot at the Circle K, but as I navigated my way to the entrance, I found myself walking into the dark floored, white walled setting of various childhood night terrors (I mean that in every excellent way, of course). After purchasing my ticket from the small, barred, closet-like alcove that serves as a box office, I made my way up the stairs, beneath the ballerina leg hanging (I think seeing it for yourself will clarify my description) and into the auditorium, which is one of those wood floored, all-purpose rooms that all of use ate lunch in slash went to gym class in slash watched the school talent show in if we went to elementary school in southeast Michigan. As I sat down and waited for the show to start, I listened to others munch popcorn (that’s right, they have a concession stand) and chat, I realized just how lucky I am to have a theater in my town that not only loves the art of film as passionately as I do, but that seeks to excite others as well. So many other so called art theaters (I’m looking at you, Main and Maple) seem complacent in with their niche crowd of elderly cinephiles and college aged hipsters, but The Burton seems to quiver with excitement, as if founders Nate Faustyn, Jeff Else, Matt Kelson and David Allen still can’t believe that they get to do what they do. If you’re one of those weirdo, Russian animation loving, obscure doc watching (is he just describing himself, or making fun of me?) film geeks, come on down. But don’t worry, all you skinny jean clad, beard and sweater types, you’re invited, too. So are you, middle aged guys with Great White t shirts and sunglasses at night. But not you, lone drunk guy who chomps and spits popcorn out all over the place (please, just stay home). Everyone else, come on in. Have a seat in the auditorium, which is a frankensteined mash up of Detroit’s artistic, architectural and aesthetic history (those light fixtures came from a church). Follow the creepy trail that leads to the men’s room for a game of pool while you relieve yourself. Yes, there’s a pool table in there. Just make sure you’re back in time for the righteous trailer reel.
In addition to showing excellently independent cinema, simply experiencing The Burton is a conversation topic in itself, a true filmic experience that only works to reinforce the magic, the energy, and the joy of film.
The Burton features ample, lit parking adjacent to the building itself, and very reasonable prices to indulge in its wares. The lineup belies the owners’ true favorites; horror and classic exploitation films, but rest assured, there really is something for everyone. Located on Cass Avenue in the Cass corridor, The Burton is a tremendous asset for all you film nuts out there. Please, support your local film lovers.

Blood Into Wine

directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke

Famed rockstar Maynard James Keenan (you know, Tool? A Perfect Circle? Pucifer?) decides he wants to start a vineyard in Arizona’s Verde Valley region. Yes, the sentence you just read is real, and so is the pleasantly surprising doc about Maynard’s quest to bring his vineyard, his wine, and his dreams to fruition. Aiding him is wine mentor and general laid back guy, Eric Glomski, who owns a vineyard of his own just down the way from Maynard’s Caduceus vineyard. Eric’s is called Page Spring Cellars, by the way, and together they form The Arizona Stronghold. As Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke follow Maynard through a harvest, they discover the not so whimsical nature of this passion and find, at the core, a person seeking to cultivate from the ragged Arizona landscape a visceral reality. Wine lovers should dig this vintage just as much as lovers of all things Maynard. And the scene in which Maynard speaks to a group at an unveiling, in a Fred Flinstone tie!, is absolutely priceless. Set the time machine for the early 90s and imagine picking up a tape titled Opiate by some new band called Tool, and instead of the trippy design on the cover, you saw that image. Tool, like Maynard’s other musical projects, have managed to cultivate and maintain a mystique that he has no intention of exploding in this film, but probably the most surreally entertaining (and telling, concerning Maynard’s sense of humor) sequence in the whole film is when Maynard and Patton Oswalt (?) sit around and sip wine while Oswalt makes cracks about the middle syllable of Caduceus sounding kind of like “douche”, then launching into a joke as film pitch about a gunslinger wine snob. Okay, I’m done giving away strange and excellent parts of this doc, but trust me, give it a whirl. You may find a new respect for the old vino. At the very least, it may just make you want to pop in some old Tool tapes and get loose.

Heavenly Creatures

directed by Peter Jackson

The story of two school friends that begins with a fantasy world and ends in savage murder is pure heaven when spun by Peter Jackson, lord of the creature film and mastermind of the greatest fantasy series film adaptation ever! But enough about LOTR (if you aren’t familiar with that acronym, just go find the geekiest kid you know and ask him to decipher it for you), the real gem of Jackson’s career is Heavenly Creatures, starring the always miles beyond other actresses talent of Kate Winslet, who befriends another girl at school and crafts an elaborate imaginary world. To get into too much detail would only serve to ruin the mystique, but Jackson’s early film is like watching college football. Not as clean and organized as pro ball, but it’s got guts, energy, and something to prove. Bravo, Mr. J, and Heavenly Creatures is a prime example of what we can achieve when we’re hungry. 

23 March 2010

Buffalo '66

directed by Vincent Gallo

I’ve been reluctant to review Vincent Gallo’s strange and enjoyable film, Buffalo 66, since I began reviewing films. It’s not because I hate the film, it’s just that Vincent Gallo kind of strikes me as the sort of guy who scans the internet looking for disparaging remarks cast about his work and actively hunts such remarkers down. For the record (Mr. G): I liked Vincent Gallo’s film, Buffalo 66. Ben Gazzara is sleazy and wonderful, Kevin Corrigan is perfect (per usual) and Christina Ricci is excellent as Layla, impromptu  girlfriend to Billy, off-kilter ex-con fresh out of the joint and hatching a revenge plot as ill advised as his dinner plans. It’s a nutso love story that only a true lunatic could cook up. Totally worth it.
P.S. I really do like your films, Mr. G. Please don’t find me in the middle of the night with crazed, hate-blackened eyes.

Revolutionary Road

directed by Sam Mendes

I have been trying to avoid such obviously beautiful and snobbishly revered films much like Pee Wee avoided the snakes during his pet shop fire rescue in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, but I have to tip my cap to Revolutionary Road, expertly directed by Sam Mendes and geniusly acted by Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates, Kathryn Hahn and David Harbour. Kate and Leo are together for the first time since their true love burned red hot, just not hot enough to melt the iceberg that killed poor Jack in Titanic, and this time around the honeymoon is over. Leo plays Frank Wheeler, unhappy business man and husband to wannabe actress April, played by the mesmerizing Kate Winslet. The pair move to their home on Revolutionary Road in hopes of starting fresh, and when they decide to call it quits in the states an move to Paris, all seems right with the world. Can the dream last? I’ll leave it to you find that out, but rest assured that all involved make magic of every scene. Leo, Kate and Michael Shannon, poor Michael Shannon whose tidal wave performance was snubbed by the Academy a few years back when they gave the award to a former great. There, I said it. He deserved the Oscar over Heath Ledger, and if Ledger still had a pulse during award season, he wouldn’t have won that little golden guy. Now, if the torch bearing mob could please assemble in an orderly mass to the left of my house so that the film geek lynchers avec pitch forks can huddle near the right side, I would appreciate it. But all kidding aside, Revolutionary Road follows a dark and melancholy path, and somehow, just when you think it’s as depressing as it’s gonna get, Mendes unleashes the final scene like a whimper that leaves you utterly devastated. 

Out of A Forest

directed by Tobias Gundorff Boesen

Tobias Gundorff Boesen’s short film is like a kooky dreamed that turns into a very real and urgent nightmare. A story of a rabbit visiting his friends in the woods for some dinner and reminiscing turns into a bloody feast for a frightening wolf hell bent on scarfing every furry friend, including the rabbit himself. Blending real settings with stop motion, Boesen directs his short with immediacy, with balls, and that scene in the chase sequence when the wolf skids, and later when he takes a swipe at that tree are amazingly sweet. Hats off to Katrine Killerich, who animates the hell out of the darker sequences with gusto. The idea is clever, and the song is pretty cool. What else do you need?
Note: While we’re on the stop motion subject, be sure to check out the few clips for Yuri Norstein’s 30 year old (and still in progress) project, titled The Overcoat and based on a Nikolai Gogol story. If you’re like me, you find yourself comparing all things stop motion to Norstein’s impossibly high standard, so much so that your internal gauge reads “Yuri Norstein films, then everything else.” I’ve sang the praises of Suzie Templeton’s Peter and the Wolf, and even the Brothers Quay, but none of these examples can match the universally magical results Norstein achieves with every film. Each film on his resume represents the high water marks of animation. Please, pretty please, Mr. Norstein. We need- nevermind the pretension (and forgive the selfish request)- I need The Overcoat. I need it like a rose needs water. Wow, BC, did you just quote Sexy Beast in your plea for Yuri Norstein to finish The Overcoat?
Eff YouTube for making these parameters all funky. Why must you make the embed cut off part of the screen, YT? If you want to see the entire screen at once, check it out on their website.

18 March 2010

White Lightnin'

directed by Dominic Murphy

Remember Eddy Moretti? Remember, when I reviewed the great doc, Heavy Metal in Baghdad? Just go check it out, but be sure not to miss a new film penned by Moretti and Shane Smith, a film that boils under all the fire and brimstone the duo can muster. White Lightnin’ (not to be confused with the magnificent Burt Reynolds hillbilly classic, White Lightning) tells the tale of one Jesco White, whose daddy D Ray was one of the best mountain dancers in the land (this much is true). But poor Jesco has had problems his whole life, including a gas huffing addiction and predilection for violence that land him in various institutions. When his daddy gets killed and Jess gets released from a psychiatric hospital, he struggles to find a balance between his goal of a happy life and the ghosts that torment him. Loosely based, and I mean looooosely based, on Jesco White’s real life, Moretti and Smith seek to understand the wrathful God of the American South, with mixed results. As I watched Edward Hogg nail, and I mean naaiiil, the crazed Appalachian strut of Jesco, I felt the raw power of mountain faith, much as I did in the stellar doc, Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus. Hogg deserves top marks for his amazing turn in a role that I’m not sure anyone else could have done proper justice. Who’d have thought that would take a Brit to do a good West Virginian (I only heard that accent crack once, in the hospital sequence. Nice work, Mr. H)? Smith and Moretti, however, aim for a target that they only sort of hit. And I know what you were trying to invoke with the title, guys, but I didn’t see any White Lightning in that whole film.

13 March 2010

Under the Great Northern LIghts

directed by Emmett Malloy

The White Stripes. A Canadian Tour. Sporadic popup shows in each town they play. You don’t need much more than that, and Emmett Malloy doesn’t try, instead simply chronicling the duo’s journey across the continent above our heads. For the most part, that is. Sure, there are a few artistic flourishes here and there, but Malloy, just as the White Stripes, seeks to make much with very little. The White Stripes have long been notorious for the constrictions they heap upon themselves, constrictions that not only seem to work, but constrictions that, as Jack says in the doc, only serve to make them better artists. When you have the whole palette and all the time in the world, the fun and intensity fades. When you are The White Stripes, a band who have utterly dominated the local and global musical scene for the past decade, you let the music speak for itself. And when you’re Malloy, all you really need to capture the Detroit muscle badassness of The White Stripes is a camera. Malloy’s doc is an interesting glimpse into an interesting world of a truly interesting band seemingly in their essence of raw, spontaneous exuberance. And be sure to check the priceless face Jack makes when he pats the cough out of that old lady.
Note: I would have to fine myself for dereliction of duty if I failed to mention another Malloy classic, Out Cold, that he directed with brother, Brenden. Check out my review for it.

Fish Tank

directed by Andrea Arnold

If the film An Education had peeked over Fish Tank’s shoulder during exam time, it might have gotten some of the things right that Andrea Arnold’s film did. I know, I know, the Academy and the art film snobs (I mean that affectionately, of course) out there loved An Education, and while I give it good marks for effort, the final result left my hopes deflated. Fish Tank, however, wouldn’t take that kind of prissy, proper, crime as a faux pas sort of attitude for a second. It would have given it a head butt, just as the 15 year old main character, Mia, does to another girl in the first few minutes of the film. Katie Jarvis plays Mia as if her life depends on it, with all the piss, vinegar and vulnerability befitting such a breakout role. Michael Fassbender is excellent as Connor, new boyfriend to Mia’s drunk mother (a razor sharp Kierston Wareing), a mysterious man whose affection for Mia is suspect. Arnold’s film makes no bones about its aim, and it hits its target with all the toughness it can muster. Life in London’s projects is as hard as anything out there, but what Jarvis, Fassbender, and Arnold seek is something that transcends a film about growing up in poverty. Mission accomplished. And boasting one of the best soundtracks of the past few years, Arnold has another thing to be proud of.
Note: There may be a few of you who, like me, sometimes wonder, just before slipping off to sleep, or driving an empty, moonlit highway “I wonder whatever did happen to the Hedgehog’s Horse, out there in the fog?” If I’ve lost you, go back and watch Yuri Norstein’s monumentally classic short film, The Hedgehog in the Fog. If you are still with me, then go watch Fish Tank for a possible answer to those melancholic queries. 

11 March 2010

Domino

directed by Tony Scott

Muse is Radiohead. That is, Muse is Radiohead in a parallel universe if Radiohead didn’t care so much about acing every test and just wanted to party on Friday night. Well, Tony Scott, similarly, is his brother, Ridley. That is, Tony Scott is just like his brother if, in that same parallel universe, his brother just wanted to rock and roll all night, get into bar fights, and generally wyle out, making gonzo-great films in the process. Tony Scott is the Mick Jagger of the film world, the too cool for school, glam bitch rockstar responsible for bringing sexy back to movies. True Romance, Beat the Devil and Domino represent Tony Scott at his most reckless and best, but it’s in Domino where all the four elements of Scott’s signature style coalesce like gangbusters. I’m talking about blatant, almost indulgently blatant filmic moves, excellent acting, ragged edged and amazing soundtracks and saturated cinematography. Absolutely none of these elements are a slight or insult, by the way. Pour example, I simply loath the bottom feeding wasteland of the Crank 2 plotline, but I have to admit that, from a technical standpoint, that film is one of the best things I have seen in recent years (and remember, of course that Crank and Crank 2 came after Domino. Remember that, kiddies, for it is tres important). But back to the matter at hand: T Scott’s Domino is as obviously cool as they come, steeped in the “I don’t give a shit about your rules and your stereotypes” ethos of all things ahead of the curve. From the uberhip subtitles to the aggravatingly rad opening credits to the amazing performances to the aggravatingly stellar closing credits, Scott’s (Tony, not Ridley) film is an excellent testament to all things sweet. Kiera Knightley is Domino Harvey in all the right ways, flipping society the bird with one hand and socking faces with the other, the jaded at birth offspring of upper class who wants to sink her teeth into the meat of life. Helping her do just that is Ed wonderfully played by Mickey Rourke (you can do no wrong in my eyes, Mr. R), bounty hunter extraordinaire who takes her under his dysfunctional wing and shows her the ropes. After that, the story takes on a life of its own, including a reality television show, a multi-million dollar armored truck heist, a possible mob killing and the story of a daughter’s place in the universe. Loosely based on Domino’s real life and written by genius Richard Kelly (did you see Donnie Darko?, Good, but don’t ever see Southland Tales if you want to keep the Kelly mystique alive.), the film covers the short span of time from which Domino joins forces with Ed to the time she finds herself talking to an FBI agent (an incredible Lucy Liu). Just sit back and enjoy the ride. I could write pages about why Tony Scott rules, and if you find that Domino doesn’t illustrate every aspect of his genius, then you need to find another hobby, because appreciating film is clearly not on your list of “things I love”.  Tony Scott, My wish for you is that you never get serious and boring. Stay Roadhouse forever.

09 March 2010

Tron: Legacy (new trailer)

Let he who is without geekiness cast the first stone. Personally, I can't wait.

RoboCop

directed by Paul Verhoeven

Paul Verhoeven’s ballbuster of a film is an ultra-violent souvenir from the 1980s, complete with all the smarmy and slick trappings of a cocaine addled prediction of Detroit’s future. Let’s be clear, the D’s not as bad they thought it would be, a possible location for the next John Carpenter Escape From film. Peter Weller plays officer Murphy, a good cop who gets gunned to pieces. But it’s the near and frightening future, and they have the technology, so they rebuild Murphy with robot parts and turn him into a part robot, part cop. A RoboCop. Call him what you want, Weller is still badass as hell, tracking down the bad guys responsible. You would do well to find the unrated cut of the film (back in the day, it was the Rated X version) to really appreciate what Verhoeven was dealing with. It’s blood and guts, bullets and mayhem. Action sans the pesky conscience other films grapple with.

08 March 2010

From Dusk Till Dawn

directed by Robert Rodriguez

All right, film watchers, let’s watch film. Dynamic duo Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, long before they teamed up for the exploitation classic Grindhouse, joined forces to bring us the gangster, horror, action treasure, From Dusk Till Dawn, the film that made George Clooney a man. With Tarantino holding the pen and Rodriguez holding the camera, how could you not expect sparks? Clooney and T are the Gecko brothers, heading to Mexico after a bank robbery, and leaving a grisly trail of carnage in their wake. When Seth and Richie take a family hostage (is Harvey Keitel playing a preacher?) and use them as cover to cross the border, the gang stop at a bar to await the arrival of the Gecko brother’s connection. What unfolds in Mexico is a plot twist almost Hitchcockian in its warped ambitiousness. Clooney showed the world that he was more than a cable actor, and he also open hand slapped all the doubters who chalked him up as a TV pretty boy. Guess he showed them. Tom Savini is dynamite as Sex Machine, and Inglorious Bastard himself Fred Williamson is still built like a brick shithouse as Vietnam vet Frost. In true QT and RR fashion, it’s cult meets mainstream, and the result is a truly entertaining shockfest that everyone seems to forget about when recapping the achievements of either filmmaker.

07 March 2010

At the Oscars (By "At" I mean sitting in my basement. How glamorous.)

As an experiment, I am going to craft a post that reflects my stream of consciousness as I watch and react to this award show. Perhaps the effect of these thoughts, ideas, and various two cent contributions to the universe will prove profound. Probably, though, they’ll just be weird when taken out of context. We’ll see. Here we go:

-How tiny is Zac Efron? He’s like a shrinky dink man. I think Tom Cruise might be able to dunk on him. They’d have to post up on one of those plastic kiddie hoops that Fisher Price makes, though.

-Ugh, old people jokes between the Queen and Herr Von Trapp.

-I think they replaced Kathy Ireland with a robot.

-I love Jeff Bridges so much, but he still looks like a damn Wookie.

-The only reason that opening song was any good was because of NPH.

-What did you expect? I love Woody, too, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Bravo, Mr. Waltz.

-The Blind Side. What a Hallmark channel pos. Look at all that forced applause…

-Fantastic Mr. Fox, you’d better not get screwed…

-Shit!

-Come on, people. Up was good, but it was not Wall-E, and it sure wasn’t Fantastic Mr. Fox! Bull, sirs and ma’ams!

-This Best Song category is making me feel the exact opposite way as the year when Three 6 Mafia won for Hustle & Flow. That was a good year (but that movie A Good Year sucked ass. For shame, Ridley Scott, and double for shame to you, Russell Crowe).

-The Weary Kind. Justice. Still pissed about Karen O and New Moon.

-Please, please please. Come on, make a seriously good decision, Academy…

-Mark Boal. It’s no Coen script, but I’ll take it. Not everything can be appreciated in its own time.

-Damn you, Downey Jr. You’re too cool for school! I saw you sweeping Tina Fey up those stairs.

-RIP, Mr. Hughes. You are truly missed by us film lovers.

-Ben Stiller, you’re kind of an ass.

-Best Makeup?

-A Serious Man. Best film in years. Years.

-These Kosinski Lincoln commercials only serve to make me even more impatient to see Tr2n.

-Crap in the Air. What a disappointment. At least it didn’t win. Good call, Academy.

-Governors Awards. Lame, but awesome for geeks like me.

-Mo’Nique. Absolutely.

-Man, Colin Firth was good in A Single Man. I am so enamored with that film. I feel like Richard Jenkins in Step Brothers when Darren is talking at dinner. Wasn’t Richard Jenkins wonderful in The Visitor, btw?

-Ugh. An Avatar win and a near death story. Yeesh.

-Costume design. The Makeup award of the clothing world. But Ford deserves the award, really.

-My girlfriend looks a little like Charlize Theron, and a lot like Dog the Bounty Hunter. Thank you for the humor, Zach G.

-Screw you, Academy! A thousand times! Edward Scissorhands is not horror! But mad props on getting From Dusk Til Dawn in there. That, incidentally, was to be my next review, followed by Robocop.

-The Hurt Locker rocks the Sound categories. I’m good with that.

-Why did they play the E.T. soundtrack when Elizabeth Banks walked on the stage?

-Eli Roth, how lucky are you that you get to ride QT’s coattails like that? I could be you. Do you realize that? I could hang out and talk to QT about White Lightning and Seven Men From Now, or the Lone Wolf and Cub series, occasionally making movies that aren’t good and- and- wait, what else is it that you do?

-Shit of the bull, Academy! Ride that fluorescent, unrealistic wave, Fiore. Lance Acord and Roger Deakins deserved the hell out of that award.

-All right. Driver showed up. I miss you, Mr. Swayze. Feel free to Ghost me anytime (Ghost me? What does that even mean, BC?).

-Desplat still deserves the Oscar, but The Hurt Locker and Up deserve best dance sequence. Nice work.

-Up. Figures.

-Of all the awards, I can make my peace with the visual effects award going to Avatar. That part of it was no joke (though I still think Weta could have given everyone a run for their money).

-I can talk shit, but James Cameron truly is his generation’s Merion C. Cooper, and the world does need grandiose, vehement and overconfident filmmakers. It’s what Hollywood was built upon.

-They’re effing dolphins. I know it’s terrible, but come on.

-Hooray! The Hurt Locker wins again! In your face, Cameron. Editing is a major and underappreciated component in the filmmaking process. Bravo.

-The Hurt Locker, along with Bug, is one of the best films about addiction in years.

-Don’t forget savage revenge, Kathy Bates. Peace, harmony, love and savage, bloody revenge. Followed by massacre. Thanks, James Cameron.

-Is it just me, or are these Microsoft commercials just demeaning to PC users? Hi, I’m a PC and I’m too stupid to handle a Mac. Please make it easier for me. I resent that (but windows 7 is pretty boss)

-Michael Stuhlbarg, it is criminal what happened to you.

-Kate Winslett, you are probably one of the finest actresses who have ever lived.

-Congrats, Jeff Bridges. I would have loved for Jeremy Renner to take it home, but you did deserve it, too.

-Okay, Mr. B. That is a big door (cue the geeky giggles from the Tron nerds).

-Gabby?

-And Sean Penn kind of looks like Freddy Kruger.

 -Sandra Bullock, you know you don’t deserve that.

-Jesse James, there’s no crying, ever. Never show weakness!

-Yes! Yes! Kathryn Bigelow, you so deserved that. Point Break! Near Dark! K-19! The Hurt Locker!

-Is this the teariest Academy Awards ever?

-In all honesty, I knew that the Coens wouldn’t be vindicated. But at least Kathryn Bigelow got it over James Cameron. Not bad, Academy. I’ll give you a pass to judge another year.

There we go. Maybe not quite what I expected, and in a good way. That Sandra Bullock award is going to stick in my craw for some time, and I know I'm not the only one. Who's in the mood for some good, old fashioned b movie fun? Count me in. Let's go see The Crazies.

06 March 2010

Oscars 2010: Sunday Night Scamfest, End of Line

It's all out there, kids. Let's see what shakes loose tomorrow. The Academy has been trying to downplay the 10 film Best Picture category, claiming "we've done it before". Yeah, you did it in 1943, Academy. Don't act like it's only been a few years since it last happened, or that's it no big deal. Whole people have been born, lived and died in the span between this thing you have "done before". And after this year, I'm guessing it will be a while before you do it again.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Deserves it: In the Loop- Good stuff all around.

Doesn’t deserve it: Up in the Air- Was it really just me? Am I the only one who found this film boring, generic and ultimately forgettable? I feel like Charlton Heston in Soilent Green.

Screwed: The Road! The Road, dammit!
Scot Z. Burns made a comic feast of the Kurt Eichenwald book, The Informant!, and just like Che, Soderbergh’s excellent film goes unnoticed.

Best Original Screenplay:
Deserves it: I guess it would have to be- wait a minute. Could it be? Finally! A Serious Man!

Doesn’t deserve it: No one. All noms in this category are very deserving. Congrats.

Screwed: Tough call, but I thought Moon deserved more love this year.

Best Film:
Deserves it: A Serious Man- I complain, but at the same time the Academy gets it right when it counts. How I love you, Kathryn Bigelow, but the Coens have made the best film in years, so good that it should be nominated again next year. Their secret: constantly trying to do new things. These auteurs have created a world, a point of view, and a film style uniquely theirs.

Deserves the silver: (Drum roll) The Hurt Locker (cymbal crash)- Kathryn Bigelow has proven once again just how a master of the filmic universe rolls. Badassly! Now all we need is Point Break 2, Ms. Bigelow. Pretty please?

Doesn’t deserve it: The Blind Side- WTF, Academy? I endured this 2 hour piece of shite and lived to tell the tale, but come on. Schlock meets schmaltz, and the pair run into tacky pap in the street, then they all link arms and skip down to the sugary sweet sentimentality shop. The only thing that could rival this in terms of absurdity is the nom for Up in the Air. What did I miss? Please tell me.

Screwed: Not really screwed, because the Academy has apparently nominated every other effing film that came out this year, but Cary Fukunaga’s immaculate Levi’s commercial featuring Walt Whitman’s voice deserves a crossover shout out. While we’re on the subject, why not nominate Ringan Ledwidge’s celebratory Cadbury commercial in the Best Cinematography category? These are true blue award caliber films, unfairly relegated to the realm of mere commercial.

So there we go, folks. Let’s see just how many of these predictions line up. I plan to fabricate my own personal trophies and send them to all deserving parties. So look for my foil and construction paper plaque, Mr. Waltz. And Misters Coen, you will each be receiving homemade snowglobes. Congrats.
P.S. Mr David LaChappelle, I am sending you a mix tape to express my true appreciation for RIZE.

05 March 2010

Oscars 2010: Sunday Night Scamfest, The Quadrilogy

We're getting close, folks. Only a few more categories to go and my ulcer hasn't stopped working overtime.

Best Score:
Deserves it:  Fantastic Mr. Fox- Alexandre Desplat mixes whimsy with gusto that blends perfectly with Anderson’s vision. It’s cussing great!

Doesn’t deserve it: Sherlock Holmes- It’s no mystery what happened here. Elementary, my dear reader.  I can almost hear the scraping sound from the bottom of Hollywood’s barrel.

Screwed: Where the Wild Things Are- Karen O and Carter Burwell got jacked this year! Not even a Best Song nom. And Burwell was the aural madman responsible for A Serious Man! Let me tell you something, Academy. You’re suspect!
Marvin Hamlisch- The Informant! was a great film, and the soundtrack was one of the best things about that film. Too bad.

Best Original Song:
Deserves it: The Weary Kind- Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett craft a beautiful and simple song that seems to crystallize the entire film into one great moment.

Doesn’t deserve it: Randy Newman- Do I need to explain myself further?

Screwed: All is Love- I can’t even- too mad-
Karen O, I love you.
Also: What about nearly every song from the supremely excellent New Moon soundtrack? If awesomeness could be harnessed as energy, then that soundtrack alone could power a small town. I know that the movie sucked, but don’t blame the music.

Tomorrow will conclude my predictions slash feelings on the snoody, flawed affair we call the Oscars...

04 March 2010

Oscars 2010: Sunday Night Scamfest, Cubed

Hey BC, why do all these categories have the same small number of films? Because, film lover, would you really think the Academy a credible judge of films if Jennifer's Body was in the running? Or Law Abiding Citizen? Or The Blind Side? Wait-dammit!


Best Art Direction:
Deserves it: Sherlock Holmes, just to stick it to Avatar.

Doesn’t deserve it: Every friggin period movie ever made- Yes, I know a lot of work goes into recreating another time period, but really? You’re like moths to flames, Academy. What about A Single Man? Or The Road? Or Tetro? Or The White Ribbon, for crap’s sake?

Screwed: I think I just covered it.

Best Cinematography:
Deserves it: The Hurt Locker- Everything about this film was amazing, and I could feel the heat, the grit and the chaos from my theater seat.

Doesn’t deserve it: While technologically advanced, Avatar’s neon nightmare of a fantasy ecosystem was lame and unrealistic. Blame the computer geeks if you want to, but it’s not like Mauro Fiore took a leave of absence.

Screwed: A Serious Man- You’ll realize it eventually, Academy. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your lives. The Coens created a classic of epic proportions with this one.
Where the Wild Things Are- Lance Acord, you are a genius.

Best Directing:
Deserves it: Kathryn Bigelow- Okay, okay. James Cameron’s Avatar is allegedly a technical milestone, and I know a lot of work went into it, and the action sequences were kind of fun to watch, but it doesn’t change the powerhouse punch of Bigelow’s masterpiece, The Hurt Locker.

Doesn’t deserve it: Jason Reitman- The Academy must have their heads up somewhere if they thought that this testament to mediocrity was one of the finest 2009 had to offer.

Screwed: Who else? The Coens!

Best Documentary Feature:
Deserves it: Same as the Screwed category, both Tyson and Good Hair delivered, while such a lukewarm and technically heartless doc like Food, Inc. made everyone swoon.

Even Capitalism was better than Food, Inc. What gives?

Screwed: RIZE- It’s been 5 years and I’m still raw about it. It’s criminal what happens to truly good work.

Let's keep on keepin' on...

03 March 2010

Oscars 2010: Sunday Night Scamfest, Part Dos

Ta da! the Best Supporting categories and the Best Animated Feature category.


Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Deserves it: Christoph Waltz- Sorry all other nominees, you just got trounced by the best. Better luck next time.

Doesn’t deserve it: Hard to say… I would almost say that no one else deserves it after watching Waltz explode the competition, but in all honesty, Tucci was great, but not as amazing as Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, David Morse, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce (read the screwed section for my reasons for repeating the above names). You’re not fooling anyone, Academy.

Screwed: Robert Duvall- Two times last year Robert Duvall created absolutely vital performances out of minor characters, once in John Hillcoat’s The Road, and again in Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart. You the man, Mr. D.
Guy Pearce- Pearce worked overtime to show us his chops as well, once in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and again in Hillcoat’s The Road. Why isn’t The Road up for anything, btw?
David Morse- The Hurt Locker, once again (big surprise), gives us something amazing in David Morse, who can creep out the bravest of lions with simply a look.
Nicholas Furu- His bowl-cut intensity is Day Lewis-esque as he stuns portly Zach G in The Hangover. Best casting ever.

Note: LIsten up, Academy. The next time you want to add on some "regular folks" movies to your Best Film category, get your eyes on the prize and pick things that actually deserve it, like frickin The Hangover! 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Deserves it: Mo’Nique- Again, I didn’t see Precious, but even the trailer shows that Mo’Nique had the stuff to blow the competition away.

Doesn’t deserve it: Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga- Sorry, ladies. It just didn’t do it for me.

Screwed: Jullianne Moore- Moore was revelatory in Tom Ford’s devastatingly beautiful A Single Man. But the Academy thought Vera Farmiga was better…
Sari Lennick- Again, A Serious Man gets the snub. That’s a serious mistake, Academy.
Heather Graham- No love for Graham’s sunshine at a picnic performance in one of the best comedies in years. Go watch that final scene between Graham and Ed Helms again and try to disagree with me. A shame. At least Sigourney Weaver didn’t get an effing nod for her tough chick caricature in Avatar (gag).

Best Animated Feature
Deserves it: Fantastic Mr. Fox- Wes Anderson crafts a film that will endure forever, and voice talents that set a new standard for turning it out. Just superb.

Doesn’t deserve it: The pickings are too slim for me to hate. I’ll take a semi-competent animated film anytime.

Screwed: Not really enough options out there for me to comment.

Stay with me, folks...

02 March 2010

Oscars 2010: Sunday Night Scamfest

Rather than launch into a rant about how the Academy is, in their attempt to go throwback, really screwing themselves, I am just going to go on down the line. P.S. I’m not going to bore you with my super geeky two cents about doc shorts and sound editing:

Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Deserves it: Jeremy Renner- Renner’s understated and haunting performance in The Hurt Locker was worth the price of ten admissions.

Doesn’t deserve it: George Clooney- Really, Academy? You saw all the movies this year, and that’s who you thought deserved the nod? Bologna.

Screwed: Michael Stuhlbarg- Stuhlbarg’s turn in A Serious Man, the newest Coen Brothers classic (it truly is, in every sense of the word), was seriously astonishing.
By the Way: What about Sam Rockwell in Moon? He was amazing, two times!

Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Deserves it: Gabourey Sidibe- Unfortunately, I missed Precious when it came to theatres (which sucked because it was one of the films I wanted to see most this year), but I can tell by process of elimination that Sibide is the strongest nomination in this category.

Doesn’t deserve it (aka WTF?): Sandra Bullock- Since when does a thick southern accent and a stern facial expression (that never changes once throughout the film, btw. It’s like she was wearing a mask.) count as good acting?
Meryl Streep- Really, Academy? Streep’s impersonation of the culinary First Lady is mockish at best. You’re better than that. Ms. Streep.
P.S. If you were going to nominate a Streep performance this year, why not her inspired and remarkable turn in Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson’s modern classic? Seriously, guys!


Screwed: Maya Rudolph- Much love, Ms. R. You stole the show in Away We Go.



More to come...

01 March 2010

Shutter Island

directed by Martin Scorsese

After watching Scorsese’s newest and, sadly, most predictable filmic endeavor, Shutter Island, I initially was not going to write a review for it. I thought better of it, however, and though I enjoyed parts of the film, I ultimately felt let down. Perhaps it’s because I had such high hopes for a film boasting such an amazing cast and amazing behind the camera talent, or maybe it’s just because I wanted a movie that offered me more than skid marks like When in Rome and Valentine’s Day. Maybe I just love Leo and Mark Ruffalo so much that I had stars in my eyes. Scorsese shows much competence in his suspenseful film about two U.S. Marshals sent to a gothicly creepy asylum to investigate the disappearance of a patient, but I was looking for more than competence. No fault can be made with regard to the acting prowess of all involved, from John Carroll Lynch (always amazing) to Jackie Earle Haley, every single person brought their A game (though I feel that Emily Mortimer had way more chemistry with Leo than Michelle Williams did. Too bad.) to their roles, but Leo, though excellent at portraying a man whose world is crumbling around him, seems to give us more of his Revolutionary Road character. Not that I don’t love Revolutionary Road (one of my favorite films of last year), I just feel that Leo’s performance, judged by Leo standards, is not mind-blowing. That seems to be the common verdict I have come to about the entire film: judged by generic film and acting standards, the film is great, but judged subjectively based on all involved’s prior work (again, this applies to Scorsese all the way down to Elias Koteas), the film falls short. It’s like the top student in the class turning in another great paper they clearly just breezed through. I know what you are capable of, sirs and ma'ams.
P.S. Patricia Clarkson, you were amazing, as well. And so were you, Ted Levine.

Dirty Dancing

directed by Emile Ardolino

It’s Nineteen Sixty-whatever, and Frances “Baby” Houseman heads to upstate New York to spend the summer with her family at a resort. And what a summer it will be… Enter the dreamiest dance teacher to ever partially button up his shirt, Johnny Castle, who teaches Baby how to shake what her momma gave her. And shake it she does, telling Papa not to preach while she has the summer of her life. Did I mention how dreamy Patrick Swayze is as Johnny? Yes, BC, you seem to have an unhealthy affection for Patrick, and who could like Point Break that much? I do, dammit! Nobody puts Swayze in the corner! Anyway, aside from the soundtrack being totally boss, and Jennifer Gray being totally cute, and Patrick Swayze being totally able to make the hardest heart swoon, Dirty Dancing is totally great in its ability to make even those who never experienced the 60s feel nostalgic for it nonetheless.