Monthly Archives: November 2007

Independent Spirit Award Noms Announced… Awards Season Begins!

I love these Spirit noms… I saw “I’m Not There” and have been working on my review so that’ll be up soon. I kinda hope Sarah Silverman doesn’t host this year, I think everyone’s getting a little tired of her… Zach Galifianakis perhaps?

BEST FEATURE

  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • I’m Not There
  • Juno
  • A Mighty Heart
  • Paranoid Park

BEST FIRST FEATURE

  • 2 Days in Paris
  • Great World of Sound
  • The Lookout
  • Rocket Science
  • Vanaja

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Todd Haynes – I’m Not There
  • Tamara Jenkins – The Savages
  • Jason Reitman – Juno
  • Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Gus Van Sant – Paranoid Park

BEST MALE LEAD

  • Pedro Castaneda – August Evening
  • Don Cheadle – Talk To Me
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages
  • Frank Langella – Starting Out in the Evening
  • Tony Leung – Lust, Caution

BEST FEMALE LEAD

  • Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
  • Sienna Miller – Interview
  • Ellen Page – Juno
  • Parker Posey – Broken English
  • Tang Wei – Lust, Caution

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – Talk To Me
  • Marcus Carl Franklin – I’m Not There
  • Kene Holliday – Great World of Sound
  • Irrfan Khan – The Namesake
  • Steve Zahn – Rescue Dawn

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

  • Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
  • Anna Kendrick – Rocket Science
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh – Margot at the Wedding
  • Tamara Podemski – Four Sheets to the Wind
  • Marisa Tomei – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

BEST SCREENPLAY

  • Ronald Harwood – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Tamara Jenkins – The Savages
  • Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner – Starting Out in the Evening
  • Adrienne Shelly – Waitress
  • Mike White – Year of the Dog

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

  • Jeffrey Blitz – Rocket Science
  • Zoe Cassavetes – Broken English
  • Diablo Cody – Juno
  • Kelly Masterson – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  • John Orloff – A Mighty Heart

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Mott Hupfel – The Savages
  • Janusz Kaminski – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Milton Kam – Vanaja
  • Mihai Malaimare, Jr. – Youth Without Youth
  • Rodrigo Prieto – Lust, Caution

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Crazy Love
  • Lake of Fire
  • Manufactured Landscapes
  • The Monastery
  • The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

BEST FOREIGN FILM

  • 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania)
  • The Band’s Visit (Israel)
  • Lady Chatterley (France)
  • Once (Ireland)
  • Persepolis (France)
Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under I'm Not There, Independent Spirit Awards

A Better Guide for the 25 Days of Christmas

Every year there are many TV channels that try to bring you 25 days of Christmas movies. Many of them are repeated and get really old. I’ve made a list of 25 movies that can be watched in order to create the best Christmas ever. This way you won’t have to watch that certain “classic” a hundred times, and are able to enjoy it. Here we go!


1. “Edward Scissorhands” – The film that started Johnny Depp’s long and impressive career with Tim Burton also happens to be a new dark Christmas tradition. While the Christmas scenes are closer towards the end of the film, they are the most memorable and the most important. Alan Arkin is always my favorite part of this movie, he plays the perfect suburban dad.


2. “Die Hard” – Another film that isn’t necessarily always considered a Christmas movie, but always seems to be an Xmas tradition. The DVD for John McClane’s new adventure is out now, so you can watch this new classic and then catch up (don’t worry about the other two movies, they really don’t count). Also, Hans Gruber is one of the best villains ever.


3. “The Great Escape” – This is a personal pick for me, I love watching this movie every Christmas. There is one scene in which the boys sing The 12 Days of Christmas but that’s about it. I believe this is an Xmas classic for a lot of people so I shouldn’t feel so alone in this.


4. “Ren & Stimpy: Have Yourself a Stinky Little Christmas” – I watched this the other night and was surprised at how funny and heartwarming it is. The story is simple: Stimpy loses his fart and is depressed for years until Ren finally finds the little green cloud who got away, just in time for Christmas. Completely ridiculous, but really funny.


5. “Simpsons Roasting on a Open Fire” – This is the first Simpsons’ Christmas special, in which Santa’s Little Helper joins the family after Homer screws everything up. It’s an early Simpsons episode so it’s not funny, but it is still a great Christmas special.


6. “Miracle on 34th Street” – I’m talking about the original one here, not the remake with the guy who owns Jurassic Park (Richard Attenborough). This film ages very well, and Edmund Gwenn plays the best Santa Claus.


7. “Bad Santa” – Probably one of the funniest Christmas movies in recent years. Billy Bob Thornton plays the drunk Santa perfectly, and the line between acting and reality is very hard to comprehend. “Bad Santa” also features the last role for the late John Ritter as the squeamish department store manager. Unfortunately, Thornton has been playing this role in several movies since but this movie was the original and is just really funny. Also, this was Terry Zwigoff’s first film since his masterpiece “Ghost World.” It was miles away from being as good as that film, but it still was a terrific Christmas comedy.


8. “About a Boy” – Christmas plays a huge role for single guy Will in this 2003 film. Hugh Grant plays Will (his best performance ever), a man who is unemployed but lives off the royalties of a Christmas song his dad wrote in the ’60s. Most of the movie doesn’t take place during Christmas but the scenes that do are so funny and memorable that they put this film on this list.


9. “Home Alone” – Back when Macaulay Culkin owned the universe, he made this great Christmas family film. The movie lacks a little in laughs now that I’m older, but it is still very enjoyable and fun. I personally like the sequel better but the original shouldn’t be forgotten.


10. “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” – This one is just a lot funnier than its predecessor, and all of that blame goes toward Tim Curry. He is absolutely hilarious as the scheming hotel manager. Other than that the movie follows the same formula as the first, this time in New York City.


11. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” – Tim Burton’s second film on the list recently spent about a month in the theater playing in 3D. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend watching it (it’s hard to get on DVD, but will probably be playing somewhere on TV) sometime during December. Tim Burton’s imagination was in full bloom back in 1992 when he made this gem and I don’t think we’ve seen anything as original from him since (except for my fave Burton film: “Ed Wood”).


12. “White Christmas” – There’s always a place in everyone’s heart for this film just from it’s titular song. Everyone loves a white Christmas, no matter how young or old you are. This is the one where Bing Crosby tap dances with Danny Fucking Kaye, and shouldn’t be missed.


13. “A Muppet Christmas Carol” – The second best Christmas Carol interpretation. Michael Caine plays a great Scrooge, and the cast of Muppets are perfect. The best part: The singing vegetables.


14. “Scrooged” – My favorite Christmas Carol film. There are few better actors than Bill Murray out there and he absolutely hilarious in this. Even when he’s a friendly Scrooge at the end, he still finds a way to be incredibly funny.


15. “The U.K. Office Christmas Special” – The American iteration of Ricky Gervais’ brilliant show has fully bloomed into it’s own masterpiece but the original has the better Christmas Special. Not only does it wrap things up for Tim and Dawn, it features Gervais’ best performance through the whole series.


16. “It’s a Wonderful Life” – This really isn’t my favorite Christmas tradition (the first hour and a half drag painfully), but a lot of people like it and it is iconic with Christmas so it must be on here. Jimmy Stewart is terrific in the role he was born to play.


17. “The Year Without A Santa Claus” – Always the weirdest Christmas special. The Heat Miser and the Snow Miser are two of America’s favorite holiday characters each with their own theme songs and miniature singers. I wish I had that. This special also feature one of the cutest things in the history of cute things: Vixen the Reindeer with the socks on her ears.


18. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” – One of the many stories of how Santa Claus came to be is told in this classic. This is how I learned about many of the different aspects of Christmas. It also has a lot of great tunes. Mickey Rooney was about 100 years old when he played Santa in this, further proving that Mickey Rooney really is Santa Claus.


19. “Elf” – The new family Christmas classic cannot be beaten. Will Ferrell gives what could possibly be his best comedic performance as Buddy the Elf, a human raised by elves who must face the real world. The movie is filled with some of the funniest Xmas scenes in recent film history and features the beautiful and talented Zooey Deschanel.


20. “Love Actually” – This came out the same week as “Elf”, but really hasn’t seen the kind of love that it deserves (pun not intended). With an unbelievable cast and a sharp script, this movie is impossible to not fall in love with. Bill Nighy is the standout performer and is what people remember most about this movie. Emma Thompson wowed me with her performance in this movie. She portrayed real pain, and the scene when she finds out the necklace isn’t for her is heartbreaking.


21. “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” – I’m sorry Jim Carrey, I’m talking about the original animated classic and not your awkwardly creepy Ron Howard remake. While this special doesn’t exactly age well, it’s still a great time to watch every year. Try not to sing along with the theme, I dare you.


22. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – My earliest childhood memories are of watching this holiday classic. One of the warmest and coziest holiday specials ever made, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is Christmas itself in every form. If you don’t like this movie, you may be a Communist.


23. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” – “Rudolph” has kind of become a cult favorite over the years, but when you watch it, it feels like you’re watching it for the first time all over again. Every song is Christmas perfection, every character is as cute and cuddly as they’ve ever been all these years. I remember watching this over and over throughout my childhood Christmas’s, a tradition that’s lasted for years and will last until the day I die.


24. “A Christmas Story” – Even though this movie takes place in the 1950s, it stirs up the best Christmas feeling in all of us. Little Ralphie wants his Red Ryder BB gun, and we all pull for him every year. This’ll be a hard movie to avoid till the 24th, since it’s on probably every channel 24 hours a day. Nevertheless, it is still a classic and is exceptionally hilarious. There are so many iconic scenes throughout “A Christmas Story” from the bunny suit, to the Chinese turkey, to visiting Santa, to Ovaltine, to “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie”… the list goes on! No matter how much it gets played, we’ll keep watching year after year.


25. “Christmas Vacation” – My favorite Christmas movie, right after “A Christmas Story.” Chevy Chase reaches the pinnacle of his hilarity. This is definitely the best “Vacation” movie, and the only one that actually takes place at the Griswold home. The whole movie is hilarious from beginning to end and is the perfect end to ones’ Christmas season. A lot of these other films seem a little tedious to watch every year, but this one never gets old. There’s always something new to see each time you watch it. Plus it features one of the best lines in a movie ever (see #12)..

AVOID THESE MOVIES:
1. One Magic Christmas
2. The Polar Express
3. Frosty the Snowman
4. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
5. The Year Without a Santa Claus (Live-action)

Well there you have it. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. I’ll be around posting new reviews and such so you should all stick around. Oscar season is upon us and I’ve begun trying to catch many of the different bait that Hollywood likes to throw at us. Happy movie watching and an early Merry Christmas!

57 Comments

Filed under Christmas

Amazing Trailer for "Persepolis"

I read parts of the “Persepolis” graphic novel and was completely in love with its fusion of comedy and drama.

Please watch the trailer for its animated adaptation, it looks like the best animated film of the year.

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809698229/video/5002714/

Thank you.

3 Comments

Filed under trailer

Review: Across the Universe

Director Julie Taymor’s new film “Across the Universe” has seen both negative and positive reviews. The film is the story of two lovebirds in the 1960s whose relationship is mainly lived out through the singing of Beatles tunes. While this is an interesting idea, it really comes across as completely cheesy.

The two lovebirds are Jude, played by Paul McCartney look-a-like Jim Sturgess, and Lucy who is played by the awful Evan Rachel Wood. The film begins with the loss of Lucy’s first love Daniel (one of the only characters in the film who does not share a name with a Beatles song), to the war in Vietnam.

Jude is a dockworker in Liverpool who goes to America to find he father, a janitor at Princeton. There he meets Maxwell (Joe Anderson) who takes him home for Thanksgiving where he meets Lucy. A romantic interest is hinted but Jude and Max rebelliously move to NYC and are soon followed by Lucy. It seems as though her entire life is in shambles after Daniel’s death and while she should be mourning she instead falls completely in love with Jude.

The film then begins to turn into a psychedelic mess. As the audience we’re supposed to assume that these teenagers are on trippy drugs of which there is little mention. The musical numbers are mostly entertaining but are thinly attached to the plot. In one scene a girl named Prudence (T.V. Carpio) who is having sexuality issues is encouraged to show her true colors through an incredibly horrible version of “Dear Prudence.” Also, her character is almost completely forgotten about throughout the whole film so the musical sequence seems unnecessary.

Almost every single musical sequence makes little to no sense. The most ridiculous of these is Eddie Izzard’s brutal butchering of “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite.” First of all, Izzard doesn’t seem the least bit interested in being in this film. Secondly, the scene is completely arbitrary and just feels like a bland way of showing that these kids are being introduced to psychedelic drugs. If they actually showed the youngsters getting high this scene would have made a little more sense (only a little though).

The real problem with this film is Evan Rachel Wood. Her sings too much through her nose which doesn’t help her monotone voice. The rest of the cast is filled with professional singers and all perform quite well but Evan Rachel Wood gives the film an incurable case of cancer with a side of uncontrollable vomiting. She is so unbelievably annoying that she drags what could have been an alright movie down to one of the most painfully horrid films of the year.

Again, the rest of the cast is not that bad. Jim Sturgess is a great male lead for this particular film. In other words, he should stick to musicals because it might be hard to see him doing anything else. Diana Fuchs plays Sadie, a rock mistress who is basically supposed to be Janis Joplin. Fuchs is a strong singer but her voice is only really suited for musicals and not for casual listening. The standout performer/singer in the film is Martin Luther who plays the Hendrix-like JoJo. JoJo’s story is a little confusing but Luther is a strong singer and could have a great career ahead of him. JoJo is really the only standout performer and the semi-great performances of the rest of the cast are only overpowered by the absolute train wreck that is Evan Rachel Wood.

The visuals are sometimes stunning, the music isn’t that great to listen to outside of the film (do yourself a favor and make an iTunes playlist of the real songs, it is much better than these versions), and the film just ends up being a real failure. In 1978 the Bee Gees brought us the unbelievably disastrous “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” That film had a pretty strong soundtrack (from real rock stars) which just inches it a little higher as the superior Beatles-inspired musical movie. “Across the Universe” could have avoided disaster with a stronger script and the much needed dropkicking of Evan Rachel Wood.

Grade: D+

4 Comments

Filed under Across the Universe, Review

J.J. Abrams Untitled Film has a Title!

And it’s “Cloverfield.”

Zzzzzzzz…

Well, that’s uneventful but at least there’s no mystery anymore.

That’s all!

1 Comment

Filed under Cloverfield

Review: Lars and the Real Girl

After Ryan Gosling’s starring role in 2004’s romantic teen drama “The Notebook”, it would have seemed perfectly predictable for him to follow in that route with a sling of similar date movies. Instead, he went the opposite route and wound up with an Oscar nomination two years later playing a crack addicted teacher in the indie film “Half Nelson.” His newest role in “Lars and the Real Girl” is another unconventional pick and more proof of his raw talent and unbelievable flexibility.

He plays the titular character, a very non-social/possibly mentally disturbed young man who lives in the garage of the house he and his brother inherited. His brother Gus (Paul Schneider) lives in the house with his pregnant wife Karin (Emily Mortimer). Both of them are very worried about Lars due to his declining social life and his weird behavior. Lars is very apprehensive of their help, and is especially uneasy around Karin.

All of those problems end when Lars meets a girl on the internet. Unfortunately for his family and the community that girl is a “Real Girl” doll named Bianca (usually ordered by the lonely for sexual reasons). In Lars’ case he just wants companionship and can’t bring himself to find real human connection. When he shows up to his brother’s front door to introduce her they find themselves in the very awkward position of figuring out how to handle this problem. They employ the services of a psychiatrist (Patricia Clarkson) and she advises that they just go along with it until Lars fixes the problem himself.

Eventually the whole town cooperates and Bianca surprising becomes a huge part of everybody’s lives. One such person is one of Lars’ coworkers Margot (Kelli Garner), a girl who has feelings for Lars but doesn’t want to break up his relationship with Bianca or his mental stability.

The entire plot seems quite ridiculous but under the careful hands of director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Nancy Oliver, “Lars and the Real Girl” is a sweet, warm comedy that evokes strong emotional feelings from beginning to end. One of the film’s main characters is a lifeless, rubber doll but there is a genuine emotional connection to her as the film progresses because we can feel the real love that she is receiving.

Ryan Gosling is one of few in a new list of actors who could be the new generation of great actors. His performance in this is as flawless as his job in “Half Nelson” but it is quite different. Lars is a very conflicted person and Gosling portrays every little subtle imperfection with grace. With these two films he has really shown his range (much like Tom Hanks when he was a young actor) and he is most definitely an actor to watch for in years to come. He is blossoming into the next great thing.

The supporting cast is also worthy of recognition. Paul Schneider and Emily Mortimer are completely believable as the confused yet supportive husband and wife. Patricia Clarkson performs wonderfully, although her story was a little confusing. In the past few years Kelli Garner has popped up in various films (“The Aviator”, “Thumbsucker”) playing a wide range of characters. She is usually gorgeous but is quite frumpy in this film which makes her character a bit more believable. She is also a young actress to keep an eye on.

There are very few flaws to this film. It drops a couple of minor subplots and one can’t help but wonder what happened to them. Fortunately the problems are so few that they are barely noticeable due to Gosling’s performance and the kind and warm nature of the film itself.

The music is also terrific, with a soundtrack comprised of original orchestrations by American composer David Torn (cousin of actor Rip Torn, who is not in the film). The music is simply sublime and adds a huge amount of emotional accessibility to the film. The film is also beautifully shot yet doesn’t lose and feeling of realism at all.

“Lars and the Real Girl” is an astonishing film. It brings out unexpected emotions from the very beginning right to end. It also happens to be absolutely hilarious. The talent in this film reaches perfect satisfaction. In other words, it doesn’t disappoint whatsoever. It’s one of many surprises of film in 2007, and luckily for us that surprise is absolutely pleasant.

GRADE: A-

Originally published in Framingham State College’s The Gatepost

4 Comments

Filed under Review

First images of Zachary Quinto as Spock!

Sylar as Spock. I’ll never get over how perfect that is. I got these from AICN, enjoy:

Hopefully soon we’ll see Chris Pine as Kirk, and all the rest of the cast. Also Winona Ryder has been cast as Amanda Grayson aka Spock’s human mother and Christopher Pike has also been cast (not by Tom Cruise thank god but by Bruce Greenwood). I’m going to see the Menagerie on the big screen this week and I’ll write a short post on how it was.

1 Comment

Filed under Movie images, Star Trek