Friday, November 30, 2007

Time for bed

Meh. I said to myself that I was going to finish up writing all the films that I have seen in the past couple of days (there are 5 more left) but I am sleepy.

I will finish up the rest tomorrow when I wake up. It's not like any of you are dying to read these.

Anyways, in the meantime, here is a picture of Robocop.

The Ten (2007, David Wain)

I am a huge fan of David Wain/Stella's comedy. I love their shorts, loved their tv show, enjoyed The Baxter, and I have come to love Wet Hot American Summer.

Having said all that, I wish I could have loved this one more. Yet, dont take that the wrong way since I really didn't enjoy Wet Hot American Summer the first time I saw it either. It was maybe until the 3rd time that I bumped into a part of it on cable that I came to enjoy it. I see this happening with The Ten as well.

The premise of 10 skits about the 10 commandments is a great one and when you mix this in with the off the wall and often times offensive humor of David Wain it becomes a genius one. However, this film faces the same problem that I have always felt anthology films face, which is that you are going to end up with a mix bag. By this I mean that some turn out really great, some turn out to be ok, and one or two are just going to turn out bad. So, because of this when you think of this mix bag of skits/short films as a whole film you are left with a film that was entertaining for the most part but heavily flawed because of the couple of bad apples in the bunch. The Ten suffers as a whole because of these bad apples.

Some of these skits are hilariously offensive and brilliant at the same time like Winona Ryder and the puppet (Thou Shalt Not Steal), an homage to Y Tu Mama Tambien that deals with a woman falling in love with Jesus Christ in Mexico (Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord's Name in Vain), and a prisoner who wants to start raping another persons bitch in prison (Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife)

Some are just bad like Paul Rudd dumping his girlfriend for Jessica Alba (Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery), a guy who loves to host naked parties on Sunday (Remember to Keep Holy the Sabbath), and an animated skit about a drug dealing Rhino (Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness)

The others are just "ok" and pretty forgettable. I'm sure that the film will get better for me on repeat viewings but for now it's also just "ok".

- B

Enchanted (2007, Kevin Lima)

This was another film that just like Hairspray, I really didnt think I would watch or think was going to turn out good. The premise from the trailers made it out to seem like Disney cashing in on the Shrek premise of making jokes about old fairy tales and when the biggest joke in the trailer is having a singing prince fall can't help but cringe.

Another thing that had me cringing was when I first read and then saw Amy Adams in the lead role of the Disney like Princess who gets transported to a modern day New York. I was and still am a gigantic fan of Amy Adams performance in Junebug and I felt that she was robbed the year that she was nominated for the Oscar. Now, when I saw that she was going to be in this I thought that she was going to go the family friendly sell out route and I thought she had much more to her than cutesy cash in roles.

So, when the great reviews started to pour in and Oscar buzz started to build for Adams again I became interested in checking it out, which was something that I did not expect at all. I was planning on waiting until DVD but when an opportunity turned up for me to tag a long and watch it for free I took advantage and did so.

I am pleased to say that this one surprised me a lot. Sure, it's not without its family film cliches and flaws but I didn't expect the film to be so charming, innocent, funny, and fun. I attribute all this mainly to Amy Adams pitch perfect performance. Every single line and every single body movement is just dead on and often times hilarious without trying too hard to be funny while other times it has a lot of heart without seeming phony or forced. She really does make the movie as good as it is.

Apart from Adam's performance the film is a lot of fun as a whole.It has some great musical numbers, which was something that I was not expecting from it, that will leave you with a smile. It also has Timothy Spall (a new favorite actor of mine) doing some good supporting work as well. The plot and jokes always work and never seem like they are trying too hard either.

I could have done without the final 15 minutes or so but thats mainly because I already liked the conclusion that the story had come to and didn't feel the need to make it all a huge climax with a large action scene. It just felt out of place.

Overall, the film is one of the better surprises I have had all year. I enjoyed myself and I was smiling and laughing through out every minute that Adams was on screen. I hope the buzz for her performance gets bigger and I also hope that she is there on Oscar night.

Not counting Pixar, this is without a doubt the best thing Disney has done in years.

- B+

Hairspray (2007, Adam Shankman)

I will admit that I wasn't really looking that forward to watching this film. I'm a big fan of musicals but the thought of the guy who did Bringing Down the House directing a musical based on a John Waters film that I think is just "ok" didnt really do it for me. Plus, it has John Travolta in a fat suit. Even when the film got an amazing amount of great reviews I was still a bit cautious towards it. However, I still decided to rent it as soon as it came out on DVD to see if it lived up to the glowing reviews.

It doesn't take too long for the film to win you over. The catchy songs with the genius lyrics are enough to have you smiling from the get go. It also doesn't hurt that there is a great film behind these songs. Everyone turns in a fun performance and the direction is surprisingly crisp and colorful to match with the charisma and playfulness that the film is exploding with.

Shankman is smart in keeping everything simple, fun, colorful, and The time goes by quick and the film never drags at all. There are no weak scenes, there are no weak songs, and there are no weak elements. It really is just the perfect film to put you in a great mood.

a character in the film named Corny Collins sums up my feelings about the film perfectly when he says "You can fight it, or you can rock out to it."

- A

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

King of Kong is this year's Grizzly Man.

Billy Mitchell wins again.

I didn't think it could happen but it did and I dont know why. I jsut know that it makes me sad and pissed off.

The academy revealed today which documentaries would be eligible this year for the Oscar. Missing from this list was the critical darling, and audience favorite, The King of Kong. This is one of my favorites of the year and is one of the best films (counting both documentaries and films) that I have seen in a long time.

This all reminds me of the time where everyone was raving about Grizzly Man yet the Academy still didnt even put it on their list of eligible documentaries to be nominated, Everyone got pissed but there was nothing anyone can do except wish something like that would never happen again and it has.

Other favorites (that I have yet to see) which were also not on the list were In the Shadow of the Moon, Crazy Love, and My Kid Could Paint That.


Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman (2005, Adrian Shergold)

It's hard to write about this film without sounding like I am copying my friend Dan's thoughts who recommenced this one to me.

Pierrepoint is a damn fine way to spend 90 minutes. Despite the film's breakneck (zing!) speed and pace, the film never loses the viewer or seems sloppy. It might be too short for it's own good and end too abruptly but these are only minor complaints since every minute in this film is great. There no weak scenes or anything that feels rushed over. It's all just gold.

I attribute the films greatness mainly to strength in the performances, mainly Timothy Spall's performance as Pierrepoint. Watching Spall rise in infamy as Britain's most famous executioner is great and Spall just chews every scene he is in with his subtle but still powerful acting.

Another aspect that I loved about the film is how the film chooses to present Pierrepoint. His moral code is never really questioned until he questions it himself in the film. Instead of becoming preachy and having a scene where he reflects on his actions every 10 minutes, the film presents characters who surround Pierrepoint who are instead the ones having a moral crisis or questioning what they are doing meanwhile Pierrepoint just keeps on acting like a straight arrow. It's an interesting way to present the character and it's nice to see that the film doesn't cop out at all with the portrayal of this infamous man.

A great and underrated film for sure.

- A-

Citizen Ruth (1996, Alexander Payne)

I don't really know what to make of this one for now. It has the dark twisted humor that I love from Alexander Payne but I don't know why...but the film just didn't connect with me.

I felt that the film started off great with its satire aimed at aborition but somehwere during the 2nd half it just became too over the top to be a great satire for me. However, this is where the dilema sets in for me. I thought the film went over the top with its characters and I was a little bit shocked that Payne went so over the top with the material. However, I was even more shocked to find out through the special features on the DVD that the film is closely based on a true story. These characters and this whole over the top situation that happens with the pro life vs pro choice people over this alcoholic druggie mother and her unborn fetus actually happened in real life. What.

So, is a film still over the top satire when the actual event it is satirizing actually happened in real life? I don't know. I really don't.

What I did respect from the film and Paynes script is the way he balances all of his attacks against both sides. There is never a moment where you feel that the film has a political agenda behind it and I admire the film for achieving that due to the touchy subject that it is making fun of. I also greatly admire Payne for this film because this was his debut film. The guy had some guts to do this film and you have to respect that.

Another thing that was interesting to see was how the satire still feels fresh. It has been 11 years since this film came out and the war between the Pro Life people and the Pro Choice people is still as ridiculous as it was then. I found this to be a little bit sad, really.

Overall I liked the film. I didn't love it, but I liked it. It made me laugh a couple of times and Kurtwood Smith (Red from That 70's Show) was hilarious in every scene that he was in as a right wing christian who doesnt really know if he really is a right wing christian or not. His performance is reason alone to watch the film.

- B

It also hit me that I have now seen all of Alexander Payne's feature films. So, I might as well rank them for the hell of it.

1. About Schmidt
2. Election
3. Sideways
4. Citizen Ruth

I wonder how long it will take until his next one comes out since IMDB has nothing listed in the works for him.

La Vie en Rose (2007, Olivier Dahan)

La Vie en Rose is without a doubt one of my favorite films of the year so far. There is nothing negative that I can say about the film at all and when discussing it I always find myself just raving about it. It really is that good in my opinion.

What works for La Vie en Rose is a combination of some very slick, stellar, and yet very subtle direction mixed with a powerhouse performance by Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf. She really and truly does become the character for 2 hours and half. Seeing her as Edith Piaf from her teenage years all the way to her last night on earth is truly breathtaking and often times heartbreaking to watch. Her performance at times could have quickly become over the top and camp due to Edith almost always being high or drunk during the film but she keeps her acting very balanced. The way she uses her wide optimistic eyes is subtle ways to give the character depth through out scenes is also great to watch. You really do get a sense that you are watching a true form of acting that we don't get too much these days. This is my favorite female performance of the year so far. I really hope that she gets her credit come award season, which she will.

The direction is also just perfect. I have bumped into a couple of people who really didn't like the crazy narrative structure (the film jumps all over the place every 10 minutes) but I loved it. I felt that through this crazy narrative the pace of the film was never slow and scenes that felt pointless at the beginning of the film would later on take another field of depth when more backstory was shown. It's a storytelling gimmick for sure, but its a fun and interesting one.

Another thing worth pointing out is the 5 minute tracking shot that occurs in the film which is just too good. This is the kind of thing a film buff looks forward to witnessing and this one delievers the goods. It's not flashy at all and might possibly one of the most subtle tracking shots I have ever seen. The added surreal touches through this shot are also a pleasure to watch. Also, the range of acting that Marion Cotillard also does in this 5 minute long take once again proves why she has gotten so much acclaim over this performance. It really is great stuff.

I loved this one a lot.

- A

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

The buzz gets even bigger for Sweeney.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Variety regarding Sweeney Todd.

"While remaining faithful to the stage production, Burton has put his distinct imprint on the musical thriller, with plenty to lure awards voters, including the tight screenplay, surprising performances and, of course, the technicals."

While Burton's unique vision has yet to result in any pic or director Oscar nominations, "Sweeney Todd" could change that. The film is unlike anything Hollywood has ever seen -- gruesome but smart, melodramatic but witty, quirky but emotional -- and kudos voters may well respond."

"John Logan's screenplay smartly condenses the legit version to under two hours. Several performances, including those of Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall, will merit attention -- though anchoring the film is Johnny Depp who offers another reminder that he can apparently do anything"

HERE is the link to the rest of the article. I expect the buzz for this film to only get bigger and bigger with each new batch of press screenings.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Piranha (1978, Joe Dante)

I was able to watch what might possibly be the most famous of the Jaws rip offs the other night and for a film that is produced by Roger Corman, written by John Sayles, and directed by Joe Dante... it delivers the goods.

Since this is a schlocky film we of course get nudity and gore but what really set it apart for me was how everything was handled. There is a never a feeling of you being "in on it". By this I mean that there is never a feeling that Dante is making it campy or goofy. Instead the film takes it's subject matter (mutated killer Piranhas... on the loose!) as serious as it can without looking ridiculous. I imagine that is can also be attributed to John Sayles script.

You also know you are watching a fun film when the climax of the movie deals with these killer piranahs (on the loose !) attacking a summer camp where little kids are holding a race in the water. Great stuff, for sure.

Thats about all I can write about for this one. It's a very fun B-Movie that is easy to enjoy if you like the genre, which I do quite a bit.

- B

On the run from Johnny Law....

...ain't no trip to Cleveland

Very Early Oscar Picks..

It seems that screener's have started to leak online and this can only mean one thing: oscar season has officially begun!

So, I thought that I would do a "very,very,very early oscar picks" since it will be fun to pick out what will get nominated and win before the season goes into full swing. You know, the time when some movies become locks while others become disappointments.

Here are my picks as of right now. These are just based on early buzz and just gut feelings.

Best Picture

No Country For Old Men
There Will be Blood
Sweeney Todd

Will Win: No Country For Old Men

Best Director

Coen Bros. for No Country For Old Men
Tim Burton for Sweeney Todd
Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood
Mike Nichols for Charlie Wilson's War
Joe Wright for Atonement

Will Win: The Coen Brothers

Best Actor

Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd
Tom Hanks for Charlie Wilson's War
Denzel Washington for American Gangster
Josh Brolin for No Country For Old Men

Will Win: Daniel Day Lewis for There Will be Blood (I feel like this the 1 of 4 early locks for this year)

Best Actress

Julie Christie for Away From Her
Ellen Page for Juno
Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose
Helena Bonham Carter for Sweeney Todd
Laura Linney for The Savages

Will Win: hmm this is a tough one but for right now I am going to go with Julie Christie winning oscar night meanwhile Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard win a lot of other awards from critics and etc...

Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem for No Country For Old Men
Cassey Afleck for The Assassination of Jesse James...
Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Charlie Wilsons War
Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild
Alan Rickman for Sweeney Todd

Wild Card: I consider Foster to be a biggest wild card for 3:10 to Yuma but I wouldn't be surprised if Vincent Cassel (for Eastern Promises) Steve Zahn (for Rescue Dawn) or Sacha Baron Cohen (for Sweeney Todd) were to sneak in.

Will Win: Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men (Lock number 2)

Best supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett for I'm Not there
Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton
One of the girls from Atonement

I think this is all I can come up with right now. I consider this a blurry area for this year since there are not that many stand out performances that I am aware of. Plus, all the buzz surrounding this category seems to only be pointing at....

Will Win: Cate Blanchett (Lock number 3)

Best Original Screenplay - Diablo Cody for Juno (Lock Number 4)

Best Adatped Screenplay - Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will be Blood

Best Cinematography - Atonement or Assassination of Jesse James

Best Score - Jonny Greenwood for There Will Be Blood (I want to say that this is a lock due to the great buzz in every single review so far but it's still too early to tell)

Best documentary: King of Kong

Best animated Film: Ratatouille

I also expect Atonement and Sweeney Todd to pick up a lot of other nominations in the costume/set/editing/sound department.

So... there you have it. These are my early,early,early picks at the moment. I have yet to see basically any of these films but it will be fun seeing how some of these films will hold up against their buzz (Charlie Wilson's War/Atonement) while it will be another kind of fun to see some of these films come out of left field and become crticial darlings (Sweeney Todd/Juno)

I do have a couple of more early thoughts/predections

- I feel that if P.T.A. and the Coen Brothers end up going head to head for best director the academy will go with the Coen Bros and give P.T.A. an oscar for his screenplay.

- DDL will without a doubt win the oscar. The buzz sorrounding this performance is tremendous and DDL has proven to be a favorite to the academy.

- Sweeney Todd will surprise everyone. The buzz surrounding this film is also getting bigger and bigger by the week.

- Juno will be the love/hate film of the year.

- Zodiac will get no love but might get a surprise nomination in one of the main category's. I wouldn't be too shocked to see RDJ or Fincher become the ultimate wild card pick of the year.

Thats all for now.

EDIT: Here are some more little thoughts...

- There seems to be ZERO buzz surrounding any foreign films at all. The Orphanage is the only film that comes to mind but I attribute that films early buzz to Del Toro's name being attached to it.

- Lust, Caution (as much as I loved it) will get ZERO nominations. It just got too many mixed reactions to transfer over well to the academy. This will also,very sadly, not be the film that will break down the taboo surrounding films with an NC-17 rating. I guess Tony Leung's balls are too much to some people.

- Sorry, Woody Allen, better luck next year...

- I have a gut feeling that Before the Devil Knows Your Dead will become a dark horse in the upcoming months.

- Eastern Promises...dark horse? Maybe.

- I just noticed that I forgot to put Into the Wild in a lot of categories...oh well. I feel that this one, Rescue Dawn, and Michael Clayton have already come and gone too soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Catching Up..

  • The Great Escape (1963, John Sturges) - A+
  • Rescue Dawn (2007, Werner Herzog) - A-
  • Cruising (1980, William Friedkin) - C+
  • Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (2003, Kazuhisa Takenochi) - B-
  • The Knack... and How To Get It (1965, Richard Lester) - B+
  • Hot Rod (2007, Akiva Shaffer) - B
  • Point Break (1991, Kathryn Bigelow) - Awesome
  • Troll 2 (1990, Claudio Fragasso) - Lived up to its infamous hype.
  • Explorers (1985. Joe Dante)- B

Just because some of you might be wondering what Interstella is a trailer for it.

It might be the gayest or coolest thing I have ever seen.

I will also start doing some write ups with the next batch of movies I see.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What I've Seen Lately

The Holy Mountain (1973, Alejandro Jodorowsky) - uhhhh ?
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002, Sam Jones) - B+
The Phantom of the Opera (1925, Rupert Julia) - B
The Dream Team (1989, Howard Zieff) - B
Curse of Frankenstein (1957, Terence Fisher) - A-
Reign Over Me (2007, Mike Binder) - C+

I also spent a lot of time this past week watching the first season of Dexter which ended up living to the hype. I cant wait to start watching the second season.

Will I be doing a full write up on any of these movies? I doubt it.