Thor: Not My Superhero

After being thwarted by opening weekend opportunities, I caught Thor on Monday night. I was pretty disappointed and I’ve been struggling to understand why that might be, considering the acclaim that it has received, both from the real critics, and the comic community. I think I’ve narrowed down why it didn’t resonate with me, and it comes down to a simple fact: Thor is not my superhero. Continue reading Thor: Not My Superhero

2011 Best Picture Showcase: The Setup

As ultimately pointless as it may be, I’ve always liked watching the Oscars with a well-formed opinion on who and what is the worthiest of awards. Back in the day, movie-going was one of our main hobbies/social endeavors, so chances are we saw most everything that was being nominated. It may have been a challenge to catch the art films, or anything that was in that window between theatrical release and DVD, but we made do with what we knew. As the years have passed, our desire (and ability) to spend hard earned money at the box office has dwindled. I’ve missed “knowing what I’m talking about,” though, even if I’m watching the awards show on my own. (For all his love of movies, Ryan can’t stomach award shows)

A few years ago, a local movie theatre chain made seeing the bulk of the Oscar Nominated films even easier by offering a marathon viewing the Saturday before the Oscars of all the Best Picture nominees. You wouldn’t catch *everything* that was nominated for the main categories this way, but you’d get a pretty crisp picture. I went in 2009, fortunately during a year of great films and got to see movies I never expected to see or enjoy.

I really enjoyed the experience, but I skipped 2010.

Last year, they upped the nominees to 10(!) and AMC spread the event over two consecutive Saturdays. Not only is that a huge commitment, but for the most part, I’d already seen everything that season I’d wanted to see. There were a few that I was curious about, but there was so much that I actively did not want to see. Had they put the right movie on the right day, I may have gone, but it just didn’t feel worth it.

2011 is different. Although I did manage to catch 2 of the films when they were originally in the theatres, this is a list chock-full of potential. There are a couple I probably wouldn’t get around to seeing and one I’m flat out dreading (more on that later), But it’s a good list and there’s something deliciously decadent about turning off the world for 11 hours at a time and just enjoying oneself. When I asked R if he wanted to try and wrangle up some epic babysitting and attempt the two-Saturday affair, he declined. He also practically insisted I go by myself, because he knows how much I dig this sort of thing.

So I’m going!

I’m taking you with me, dear reader. I’ve never been to the movies by myself and doing it 5 times in a single day sort of freaks me out. To give me the allusion that this is serving some sort of “purpose” (and to keep any would-be chatty strangers at arms length), I’ll be blogging the experience. Not during the movies, mind you. That’s horridly rude. There are breaks, however, and in them you will get some raw impressions of both the movies and my experience in general. I”m not quite sure how that’s going to happen, but it will be either in a updating post on the blog, or in the comment stream of said blog post. WordPress, my iPhone and I still have some kinks to work out on that score.

Watch this space (and twitter), and as long as my phone battery holds up, we should have lots to talk about!

Oscars 2008 – Movie Bingeing Snapshots

For the past few years, one of the local movie chains in our area hosts an “Oscar Showcase” the day before the Oscars. All 5 Best Picture nominated films are shown back to back starting at 10:30 in the morning until they’re over. I tried my best in the 30 minute breaks between shows to jot down my immediate thoughts, but there were friends to chat with, popcorn bags to refill, and “breaks” to take. All in all, it was a great experience and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

What follows are my immediate thoughts for each film, followed by a bit more coherent “next day” analysis.

Milk:

12:30 on Saturday: Brolin and not Franco? or everyone else? Penn’s nomination is completely justified and without considering who else is nominated, I’m now rooting for him.

Frustrated that prop 6 didn’t pass in 1978 but prop 8 did in 2008. What has happened to this country?

I loved the combo of traditional filming and gritty shots that may have been actual footage.

No true tears, but several moments of near overwhelming sadness and joy/pride.

9 am-ish on Sunday: Milk was my favorite of the day, which surprised me. I’m not usually big on bio-picks and I don’t like Sean Penn. The movie is the story of the gay rights movement in the 1970s as much as it’s Harvey Milk’s story, and the filmmakers have a very pro-Harvey, pro-gay rights bias. I didn’t mind, but I did notice, and I wonder how well-received a counterpoint movie would be.

It’s nominated in several categories besides Best Picture and they all make sense, save Brolin. I can’t help but wonder if this is one of those crazy Oscar things where they nominated him for this because there wasn’t enough room to nominate him for “W” or something. It wasn’t that his performance was bad, it just didn’t stand out among the rest of the ensemble cast. His character certainly did, but that’s not the same thing, is it?

The Reader

3:15 on Saturday: I didn’t make any notes, so that’s probably saying something.

There was an absurd amount of nudity.

9 am-ish on Sunday: Really, those Saturday notes were jotted down between Benjamin and Slumdog, not immediately after The Reader.

This one was clearly the weak link that all the pro-Dark Knight, Doubt, or Wrestler fans will be railing against because their flick didn’t get a best picture nod. (I’m not exactly pro-DK, but that would have been a very welcome palate cleanser this year). Seriously, though, I can’t even talk about this movie when I’m talking about it the next day, either.

I’m not entirely sure why this movie is here. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just sort of…nondescript. Other than, you know all the nudity. I understand why Kate is nominated (mostly), but I do not understand why she’s winning everything under the sun. ….hold on a second, I need to ask my friend the internet something.

Ah, there it is. She’s been nominated for many Oscars and Golden Globes over the years, but hasn’t ever won. That explains it. I hate that.

I’m tired of talking about this movie already, so let’s sum up: I think this movie thinks it’s really great and powerful and beautiful and smart, but it feels more like what a not-so-great film student would produce for his final project.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

6:45 on Saturday: This held up surprisingly well. Most of the mid-movie crying was averted, but knowing what was in store once the end started made it sooo much worse.

I’m still upset that the Blanchett wasn’t nominated, but Taraji was the first acting nomination that “made sense” the moment she stepped on screen.

9:30ish on Sunday: I’ve already seen and reviewed this film, but I stuck around for a second showing because this was a good opportunity to test my theory that a second viewing would expose all the seams and flaws of this film.

It didn’t, which pleases.

I know this movie isn’t for everyone, and I can see how many audience members would find it tedious and unnecessarily melodramatic, or even wonder why anyone would want to make it, but for the right person, it’s almost cathartic. I don’t expect it to win many of the 13 awards it’s nominated for, because in every category it’s up against a film or two (or 4) that are better at that one specific aspect, but it does everything well enough. You could also add a few more acting nominations, too. One could easily argue that pulling off so many aspects so well is justification for a Best Picture win, but I don’t see that happening, and I’d be disappointed if it did.

Slumdog Millionaire

9:15 on Saturday: I can understand why this is getting attention. it’s very different than anything that’s been offered to Hollywood in the past few years.

Love love love the credits sequence.

9:30 am-ish on Sunday: This movie is in grave danger of becoming over-hyped. I can understand where the fervor is coming from, but it’s not the best film of the year. It is the most interesting, perhaps, and in some years, that’s what it takes to get a statue.

For me, this film suffered from being watched with the other 4. It had the same bio/documentary feel as Milk and Frost/Nixon, but it it had too many happy/sappy elements like Benjamin. The fantastical elements of Benjamin were easy to swallow because the entire movie was whimsical. Not so with Slumdog, not by a long shot. As the movie progressed and Jamal got himself out of one scrape or another, it was hard to ignore the voice in the back of my head saying “yes, but in real life, he’d be dead now.” I didn’t need another depressing-as-shit Blood Diamond, but the contrast didn’t lift me up and make me feel good like it promised.

The music, though. Loved the music. Although other Best Pic nominees have a Best Score nomination, this one stands out. The score is a character as much as any of the actors. The soundtrack will be mine very soon.

Frost/Nixon

12:00am on Sunday:

9:45am on Sunday: I didn’t write anything. It was midnight and time to go home.

This is a movie about getting a crazy-important interview and trying not to screw it up. A decent portion of this movie is the actual interview, which is readily available for watching on it’s own.

Sounds exciting, huh? A movie where you watch people watching two people talk. And logical. Why watch the real interview, when you can watch a movie where people act out the interview?

In the movie’s defense, it’s an incredibly well done movie about a boring idea that makes no sense to make. One of the key themes in the ride home was Penn v. Langella for Best Actor. Langella came out on top because as good as Penn was, Langella did everything he did, with the added burden of having to be Richard Nixon — a well recognized and heavily caricaturized historical figure. His portrayal was flawless. He didn’t shy away from it and he didn’t go over the top. So. Very. Worthy.

*~*~*~*

So there you have it. Want my predictions for who’s going to win some of the major awards tonight? I knew you did. The numbers in parentheses are seen/nominiated, so you can tell how much I “know” about and except for best actress, I left off anything i haven’t seen at least half of the nominated films for. I just don’t feel capable of making a call for best supporting actress or original screenplay.

Here’s the list:

Best Actor (3/5): Langella (should), Rourke (will)

Best Actress (1/5): Anyone but Kate(should), Kate (will)

Best Supporting Actor (3/5): Heath(should?, will)

Best Screenplay (Adapted) (4/5): Doubt (should – I know, the only one I haven’t seen ;), Slumdog (will)

Best Score (4/5): Slumdog (should, will)

Best Director (5/5): Van Sant for Milk (should), Boyle for Slumdog (will)

Best Animated Feature (2/3): WALL-E (should, will)

Best Picture (5/5): Milk(should), Slumdog Millionaire (will)

I won’t be not-live blogging the oscars, since I’m going to a friend’s house to watch the show. I’m sure I’ll have things to say tomorrow, though, never fear.