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

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.

movie review: across the universe

the short review: if you are a fan of any of the following: tim burton movies (in particular big fish), moulin rouge, the lion king on broadway, or julie taymor, you will probably find something to enjoy in across the universe. the more you enjoy any one of those things, the more you will enjoy across the universe.

shortest review: i loved it with my whole heart.

potentially useful review: across the universe is on the surface, a love story set in new york the 1960’s (and early 70’s?) between a poor young man from liverpool (jude) and an affluent young woman (lucy) who is from some specific town in new england, but it really doesn’t matter. the story is a musical using exclusive music written by the beatles.

but that’s the surface. it actually tells the story of the 60s in america through the perspective of an entire ensemble of characters. a well cast, written, directed, acted ensemble of characters, each representing a different path through the decade. the songs are interwoven to give each character a voice they wouldn’t otherwise have. it is very much a “modern musical” where sometimes the musical numbers are actually part of a performance, and sometimes people just burst into choreographed song at the bowling alley. the setting is as vibrant as the characters, and when things get a little trippy, julie taymor’s unique style really shines.

it’s beautiful, it’s tragic, it’s clever and witty. the singing is amazing. unless you’re a complete purist and don’t think that the anyone should be messing with the classic tunes (aka the aforementioned moulin rouge) you’ll probably find the translations entertaining when they’re not just tragically beautiful. i said that already, didn’t i? that it’s tragic and beautiful? cuz it is. it’s also occasionally very entertaining. it knows it’s clever, and does a few silly things with the score, but it never gets out of hand.

if i had any criticisms at all it would be that it gets a bit long near the end, when the revolution and the drama really get heavy, and that rachel evan wood’s voice is too … cautious and calculated compared to the rest of the cast. i personally could have done without the trippy bits in the middle, but then i would have missed out on two excellent cameos and a key turning point for the majority of the characters.

oh, bah. just go see it already, will you?

Movie Review: The Holiday (2006)

there is nothing i can tell you about this movie that you didn’t know by watching the trailer. you either want to see it, or you don’t, and you’re right in either case. if however, you’re on the fence because sometimes you like these things, let me clarify.

The Holiday is a hybrid christmas romantic comedy. it is one part english (slightly frumpy loser girl who’s trying to get over a right bastard meets a slightly awkward and/or comedic, less obviously loveable guy) and one part american (annoying “too smart for her own good” cold-hearted woman finds the one insanely attractive englishman who breaks through her barriers and teaches her important life lessons all the while saying witty things and having hott sex). it has a very, very silly premise connecting the two, but you probably know what that is already. you should know that neither is done very well, or completely. nobody really acts as much as plays the characters they are in most movies. i shed a tear, but only for an unrelated subplot, and even then i was irritated at myself for doing so.

for a movie that talks a lot about writing and movie scores (and trailers, actually), neither is done well. i think that’s called irony.

the most important information you need to know is this: know the cast. you need to like each one of these actors (especially cameron and jude, because they have the most screen time), or parts of this movie will annoy you.

seriously, though, go rent some other holiday-themed romantic comedy instead, if you really need your fix. i recommend love actually and um… well i don’t really like american romantic comedys that take place around christmas…i can’t even think of one. oh! how about sleepless in seattle! …now that i think about it, most of what meg ryan has done, except for when she’s trying *not* to be meg ryan, would qualify.

day 13- 17331:32669

my goal for the vacation was 2k. i managed to pull off a little over 3k (3257 to be exact), so go me. this means that i need to write 1922 wpd for the rest of the month (i’m 4336 behind). not too shabby.

i’m still skeptical that i’m going to make it. we’re really-really going to try and sell our house this month (buyer’s finishing up some stuff and we have to finish some up too), plus there’s thanksgiving (roadtrips will probably not balance out the 3+ hours/day needed to keep up a 2k/day pace) and of course, work. ah well, i’m going to keep on keeping on anyway.

oh, and if you’re currently doing nanowrimo, you might want to stay away from stranger than fiction until 12/1. it’s very entertaining and well done, but it might derail any sort of creative process you’ve got going on. it did point out to me that i need to figure out which character’s going to kill the primary antagonist and what actually causes it and how do they deal with the aftermath. which i did…i think.

i should probably flesh out the rest of that outline, but instead i’m going to bed.