Saturday, 26 January 2008

Trailer Park Girls

Well we have four (ish) trailers to view. The first features a two time Oscar nominee, one time winner Chalize Theron in what looks like a slushy coming of age story. I could be totally wrong as trailers can be misleading. But I honestly cannot remember a bad trailer that leads to a good movie (always the other way around). Worse yet a lack luster trailer that leads to a good movie.
This is "Sleepwalking" and this has been getting decent notices at Sundance so there still is hope.

Seconlyd we have two time (imaginary) nominee Uma Thurman in what looks like either an eye stabbingly bad attempt of romantic comedy, or something that could be quite endearing...the jury is still out. Uma has three films out this year, so lets hope one can lead her to her second Oscar nom. Doubtful "The Accidental Husband" is it.

Thirdly we have Ellen Page in "Smart People". This looks promising. The cast looks interesting enough, but we will have to wait to see exactly how the chemistry is. I love me some SJP so will give this the bene of the doubt. (Check out the trailer for SJP's other film that seemed to be forgotten, and will now get a 2008 release ""Spinning into Butter"

And Lastly my Goddess come fourth before she takes a demotion to the small screen (you cannot win an Oscar there!!). Toni Collette stars in "The Black Balloon". Well this looks the best of the bunch for me. I am not biased either. Looks like Toni will be giving another wonderful and ignored performance in this. PLEASE GIVE HER AN OSCAR!!

He is Toni again with grown up whale rider Keisha Castle-Hughes in "Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger" Not sure what to think, but hey.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Mini Review: IntoThe Wild

Have you ever had the experience when there is a movie released and you know with your heart that you do not want to see it. You know you will dislike it, or find it annoying, or even hate it, but because of critical buzz and awards you kind of have to see it (if you are a true Oscars fan).
You buy tickets.
You sit down and watch.
Then it finishes and you then have the embarrassment of having to admit to yourself that you really did love it. It moved you and you see what the fuss was about.

This exact thing happened when I went to see “Into the Wild”.
I saw it the evening after the Oscar nominations were announced and the film was snubbed. I figured it was because it was not as good as every said it was.
Boy was I wrong.
Everything in this film is wondrous.

Sean Penn has crafted a story of real beauty and realism. He should have been rewarded for both his assured and moving direction and his unsentimental screenplay. The only times he stumbles is during the flash backs of Chris McCandless’s family, which come across as more Life Time Original Movie, then drama. He tried to do the video camera effect, but it is too stylized. However he does a miraculous job at show just what a beautiful and amazing place America can be when you get out into nature. When Chris come to L.A. the ugly of the city is overly done, but is effective at making the audience long for him to leave and get back into the wild.

Emile Hirsch does a wonderful job at portraying Chris, not as a saint, but as your typical overly self righteous and self involved college brat. And this choice in acting, writing and directing makes him all the more human. You hate him for the fear and sorrow his puts his family and loved ones through, but you admire him because he has seen so much and he has really lived a full life on his journey.

The smaller players are where the real emotion lies. These are people who are voices of reason mostly ignored by Chris, and they serve to highlight his selfish behaviour while loving him.
Character actress extraordinaire, Catherine Keener plays her role as grieving mother to perfection. Never giving too much away and staying true to her emotion. She is heart breaking with her quiet plead of a question “Does your Mother know where you are?”.
Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt are given roles with very little dimension yet they both manage to create a character you can sympathise with, especially as the film ends. Jena Malone should be highly commended for her performance of Carine, his sister. She narrates the film with beauty and emotion, explaining her brother as well as her family’s grief with such honesty that you grieve along with them.

Lastly I must mention Hal Holbrook. He was the only actor nominated for an Oscar and when you see the film you will understand why.
He is the last person Chris encounters and has a meaningful relationship with. He is a lonely man who has shut himself away from the world and the pain of his life. He is a proud man, but yearns for the love of a family and this boy is the nearest thing he has had in a long time. Holbrook is majestic in this role and your heart breaks for him when he is left alone again because this kid foolishly thinks he does not need anyone.

This is where the film succeeds the most. It accurately shows how when you are young you think you are invincible and you do not need anyone to survive.
This is never true when you face hard times. Unfortunately, near the end of his life, Chris McCandless faced extremely hard times alone. Things are never as you wish them to be. A-

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

My final self-absorbed words

Ok. I am not going to dwell on this. I will not speculate as to why. It is not my business, only that of his friends and family. I will also not go on and on for weeks about how strangely and deeply this has affected me.

I have been trying to understand why this is so and a lot of it has to do with “Brokeback Mountain” of course. Not only was this one of the first mainstream gay romances, but also the best that I can think of.

Jake Gyllenhall and Heath created two living, breathing characters that the liberal side of the audience could stand behind, and the conservative could be educated by. For me they represented the gay men and women without a voice who came before me, and still (scarily so) exist today. These two straight actors were brave in their choice of taking these two roles. With so many actors shying away for these types of roles in fear of killing their career or worse yet being gossiped about, Heath and Jake fearlessly took them.

For two young, good looking heart throbs to take all that on is fearless and had endeared them to me for life. To me they were more heroic than some out gay actors. They were not fae, and did not speak with a lisp and know how to sew and decorate, they were just men who loved each other in a world that did not want them to. Finally a depiction of gay men free of stereotype.

I wish I could have thanked them personally, especially Heath, for what they did. When you are moved by an actor it is usually due to a performance that resonates inside you, and affects you in ways you were not prepared for. It leaves you with feelings of love for that person.

The death of a person you loved will always hurt however trivial or superficial that love was. In a scenario like this you always question your feelings because you had no personal involvement in their life. Also when they are young like Heath is it gives you a sobering realization of mortality.
Last night I felt like a drama queen. I was not a family or friend, or a co worker even. I had never met him so why these feeling of mourning? Now I understand.
Now to end my self involvement.

My thoughts are with his family and friends who not only have to deal with the death of a loved one, and the questions surrounding it. They also have to deal with all of those complex feelings in a media whirlwind.

Which brings me on to the ugly of this sad situation.

I have not seen the picture of the actor on the stretcher, and I hope I never do. All the gawkers outside the apartment should feel ashamed for taking picture and creating a crowd. His mother has not even seen him are there they are, recording this very private scene for their own personal gain. Sometimes human behaviour disgusts me to the core.

And for the last time I visited the website of Perez Hilton (which I refuse to link to). Already there are conspiracies and sad articles about how his private and possibly fabricated sufferings. There are those people in the world who love the misery of others, sadly Perez Hilton gives them a leader.
As an out gay man who is proud and free, I am ashamed to have this person as a public representative of that queer part of me.

Time for us all to find better sources of entertainment. *

A young man has died and people are grieving and here is Perez, this thing, gaining publicity for himself and his site out of this tragedy. The ugly side of people never fail to upset me.
Of course he is not the only one gaining financial rewards out of this, and maybe it is unfair to pick on him solely. There are loads of magazines and gossip rags getting A LOT out of this.
Only in this fucked up world can a persons death be seen as a money making opportunity.
The thought of someone making money out the my grief for my loved ones lost would turn me into an Uma Thurman/Kill Bill revenge seeking killing machine.

Here is hoping this ugly side of the media will be shielded from Heaths friends and family as they grieve.
Here is hoping that they are able to heal privately.
And here is hoping certain media outlets gain a soul.
Finally here is hoping that through the coming media circus, Heath Ledger is able to rest in peace.

* Perez does represent a queer voice about celebrities, fashion and music, but there are other queer alternatives:

For a funnier and far less malicious source of celebrity going ons, go to Pink is the New Blog.

All the celebrity fashion, hair and makeup fiascos you can handle can be found in a much wittier and less school yard bully style on Go Fug Yourself.

And finally for a queer perspective on new and exciting music, I cannot recommend Arjan Writes enough.

Go fourth and browse.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

"For as long as we can ride it. There ain't no reins on this one."

How sad the ride was so short.............

You need something like this to put in perspective how meaningless the Oscars really are. His performance in "Brokeback" was so personal to me that I feel the gut punch of loss. Perhaps it is just the dramatist in me getting caught up in this strangers death. Who knows. All I know is he will be miss, by so many, on so many levels.

Complete list of 80th annual Academy Award nominations

I am feeling all snuggly and warm. Like I am nestled in between Keira and James staring at the sea.

1. Best Picture:
"Michael Clayton,"
"No Country for Old Men,"
"There Will Be Blood."

Wow….I like everyone of these. A FIRST!

2. Actor:
George Clooney, "Michael Clayton";
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood";
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street";
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah";
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises."

Tommy Lee!!! What a surprise! Empire magazine said there was no way he wouldn’t be nominated and I laughed…..pie on my face. Wish McAvoy was here though

3. Actress:
Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age";
Julie Christie, "Away From Her";
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose";
Laura Linney, "The Savages";
Ellen Page, "Juno."

Blanchett…….REALLY?????? This is counter balanced by the wonderful nomination of Laura Linney

4. Supporting Actor:
Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford";
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men";
Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild";
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War";
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton."

How boring. Poor Tommy Lee (well not really, but still)

5. Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There";
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster";
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement";
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone";
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton."

Wonderful….aside from Ryan I have NO problem with this. Swap Ryan for Samantha Morton and I would have had an orgasm

6. Director:
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly";
Jason Reitman, "Juno";
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton";
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men";
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

Poor Poor Joe Wright. I honestly believe that “Atonement” was more of a directors film then “Juno”.

7. Foreign Film:
"Beaufort," Israel;
“The Counterfeiters," Austria;
"Katyn," Poland;
"Mongol," Kazakhstan;
"12," Russia.


8. Adapted Screenplay:
Christopher Hampton, "Atonement";
Sarah Polley, "Away from Her";
Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly";
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men";
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

WAY TO GO SARAH POLLEY!!!! A wonderful acknowledgement of her work.

9. Original Screenplay:
Diablo Cody, "Juno";
Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl";
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton";
Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, "Ratatouille";
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages."

It is a breast fest!!! So wonderful to see so many women here, and deservingly so. Also very happy for Brad Bird!

10. Animated Feature Film:
"Surf's Up."

um……no “Simpsons”….poor Homer.

11. Art Direction:
"American Gangster,"
"The Golden Compass,"
"Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,"
"There Will Be Blood."

Another great line up. “Sunshine” would have been another good one though.

12. Cinematography:
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,"
"No Country for Old Men,"
"There Will Be Blood."

Fantastic line up, I would have loved to see “Sunshine” here as well, but that was NEVER going to happen.

13. Sound Mixing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum,"
"No Country for Old Men,"
"3:10 to Yuma,"

Notice how “Beowulf” was completely shut out.

14. Sound Editing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum,"
"No Country for Old Men,"
"There Will Be Blood,"

15. Original Score:
"Atonement," Dario Marianelli;
"The Kite Runner," Alberto Iglesias;
"Michael Clayton," James Newton Howard;
"Ratatouille," Michael Giacchino;
"3:10 to Yuma," Marco Beltrami.

Dario had better win!!

16. Original Song:
"Falling Slowly" from "Once," Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova;
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz;
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush," Nominees to be determined;
"So Close" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz;
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.

Wow…I smell a Dreamgirls snub……Go “Once”

17. Costume:
"Across the Universe,"
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age,"
"La Vie en Rose,"
"Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

Great line up, but so sad for “Hairspray” Really wanted some sequinned magic in the mix!

18. Documentary Feature:
"No End in Sight,"
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience,"
"Taxi to the Dark Side,"

No idea here

19. Documentary (short subject):
"La Corona (The Crown),"
"Salim Baba,"
“Sari's Mother."

20. Film Editing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum,"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,"
"Into the Wild,"
"No Country for Old Men,"
"There Will Be Blood."

Boo for Atonement, but it never was an editing awards magnet…far to subtle. Best Pic is between “No Country” and “There Will Be Blood”

21. Makeup:
"La Vie en Rose,"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

Gotta say I really thought the makeup in “La Vie En Rose” was superb!

22. Animated Short Film:
"I Met the Walrus,"
"Madame Tutli-Putli,"
"Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven),"
"My Love (Moya Lyubov),"
"Peter & the Wolf."

Awe…I like the sound of the pigeon movie

23. Live Action Short Film:
"At Night,"
"Il Supplente (The Substitute),"
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets),"
"Tanghi Argentini,"
"The Tonto Woman."

nothing to say. YAY for ‘The Tonto Woman’ ?

24. Visual Effects:
"The Golden Compass,"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End,"

Strong line up, would have loved to have seen “Sunshine” here though. Guess it is too ‘indie’ though

Happy Oscar Nominations Morning

I am so nervous. I shall put good thoughts out there. Please let my favourite film be nominated. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!!!
Do not make me so jaded that I will loose interest in Oscars, movies and then my blog. I would hate to upset my tens of readers around the world (glad I have a lot of cousins).


(I have to say I love the film more, now that I am reading the book....I am at the final big scene in the book and refuse to go will upset me)


Monday, 21 January 2008

Final Oscar Predictions!

So I am totally doing my final Oscar predictions.

This is what I am thinking right now, and I promise to not change them. I have voted with my head, then my heart. I let the two of them duke it out for a while (but being the stronger of the two, we all knew the heart would win out) and have come up with my finals.

Best Picture
Now this is a head scratcher. Do I go with the flow, or do I assume the techs voters + the British voters = a nomination for “Atonement”?
I do not go with the flow. “No Country”. “Into the Wild” and “TWBB” are basically locks. The other two slots are going to be between four films. Any of the scenarios you come up with will look likely so I picked from random and went for “Juno”. This is just because I feel box office could win out in the end.

My ballot: “Ratatouille”

Best Director
Ok….I am stumped. Well actually I just do not want to have to find a picture of another director and resize it though photoshop and add it, so I am leaving my predictions as they are. Totally against the flow, but who the hell cares.

My ballot: Brad Bird – “Ratatouille”

Best Actress
Why Keira? Well simply I spent a long time analyzing past Oscar nominations with the precursor awards and came up with a brilliant winning formula (add the names to a hat and draw one out for final spot predictions). I am also thinking the fact that there are male voters who want some hot totty to look at. Angelina and Ellen were pregnant in their films. Julie has Alzheimer’s and Marion looks a little like Gollum in a lot of the movie. Out of the remaining, well Cate is a commanding queen (men will want to chop her down) and Amy is a cartoon character who kids love….kind-a creepy to want to give her the ole root. So Keira wins the hot award.

My ballot: Laura Linney – “The Savages”

Best Actor
Why Frank? Well you need one unrewarded old timer in the mix and well, he just fit the bill. I figured it may be too soon for Ryan, voters may just want to slap the hell out of Emile and Denzel was really not that good. That leaves James, and he could still sneak in too (but doubtful unless they want two first time nominees in the mix).

My ballot: Gordon Pinsent – “Away From Her”

Best Supporting Actor
Hal, Tom and Javier are locks. I figure Philip Is vulnerable as well as Tommy and Casey. Right now I am expecting a controversy and Casey being left off the list (category confusion for the voters) leaving PSH and TLJ to sneak in. Anyone who sees “NCFOM” (and that will be most voters) cannot ignore Jones. He is the voice of reason in the film.

My ballot: Irrfan Khan – “The Namesake”

Best Supporting Actress
I cannot leave off Saorise. It is mean and crule. If Abigail Breslin can get a nomination for “Little Miss Sunshine” then shouldn’t Saoirse surely be a lock? I figure Ruby gets the sentiment vote. If the voters have any sense they will leave off Amy Ryan….how is this best-of-the-year good?

My ballot: Tabu – “The Namesake”

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Movies yet to see.

So I have been bad AGAIN this year, and I will be doing the mad scrambled eggs to see as many of the films I have thus far missed, in order that I may be as properly enlightened as to who should be fairly laureled come year end.

These are my left to see filmology. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts on if I should try and miss something to save time.

"The Assassination of Jesse James" (not playing anywhere accessible in London!!)

"Into The Wild"

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (or for you people who have bothered to learn a second language in your lives: "Le Scaphandre et le Papillon" )

"4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days" (again: "4 Luni, 3 Saptamani si 2 Zile" for you Romanian speakers out there)

"The Orphanage" (once more for the cheap seats: "El Orfanato")

"The Kite Runner" (It will probably bomb with the Oscars, but could still be up for score and some others)

"I'm Not There" (got a chance to see this very soon, actually may see it this week in fact)

"A Mighty Heart" (really did not think a nomination wold happen so missed it. The reviews were good, but I was hoping for a GREAT actress line up this year)

"Enchanted" ( I know...take away my gay points)

"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber if Fleet Street" (The BF is still funny about musicals so may have to see this by my lonesome)

"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (just opened here so may check it out)

"Starting Out in the Evening" (will it ever open? Will it be nominated? I am predicting it to be, but who knows....hopefully that "Download the Oscar nominees site will be up this year!!)

I know two of my foreign films have been left off the list, but I still wanna see 'em. There is a strong possibility that "The Kite Runner", "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead", "Starting Out in the Evening" and "Enchanted" could wind up with no main Oscar noms, which will greatly dilute my list.

"There Will Be Blood" and "Sweeney" have yet to open over here so they will come too.

So much to little time!!!

New Alanis!!

Mini Review: The Stylized bunch.

So. These are two movie that I figured were completely over-hyped and would not be gaining me as a true and loyal fan once I had set my peepers upon them. Well they did and now I must review them.

“No Country for Old Men”

"Anton Chigurh: And you know what's going to happen now. You should admit your situation. There would be more dignity in it.
Carson Wells: You go to hell.
Anton Chigurh: Let me ask you something. If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?
Carson Wells: Do you have any idea how goddamn crazy you are?
Anton Chigurh: You mean the nature of this conversation?
Carson Wells: I mean the nature of you.

If I did not know Javier Bardem was a fantastic actor I would think him crazy. He is walks through this film as Anton Chigurh killing people at a whim, but not in a "wow that guy is so cool" way. But in something much darker, more terrifying and utterly evil.

With Anton and the way he kills it seems the cruder the method the more he enjoys it.
The crazy happy gleam in his eye as he takes out a police officer with his handcuff chains is one of the most unnerving things I have watched on film for some time.

He plays this so perfectly, so inhuman that you understand why he is such a huge front runner this awards season. He is Hannibal Lector good.

The story, conceived by novelist Cormac McCarthy has been brought to the screen by Ethan and Joel Coen, in a movie that crosses the Coens' patented stark, cold precision with a fatalism. However, unlike “Fargo" this is not a funny piece. There are a few sparks of wit but the death and mayhem brought on by Chigurh is nothing that can be laughed away.

The Story is based around an ordinary guy (Llewellyn Moss played by the brooding Josh Brolin) who stumbles upon a cache of drug money and tries to make off with it, only to find that the folks who misplaced it will do the most brutal things to get it back. Moss is a simple man a low time con man with an loving wife (the completely underrated Kelly MacDonald). However he is far too stupid, and caring to play this game and get out of it alive. When he is able to escape for his pursuer, it is pure luck, not skill.

Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones in an iconic performance that has all but been forgotten due to Bardem’s crazed killer is a weary fellow who reckons he's seen it all, Bell knows that Moss is in trouble but he isn't sure how deep until he starts to fathom the nature of Chigurh by sweeping up after his savage deeds. That is when he begins to re-evaluate his life. With his job he sees just how awful the world can be and it breaks his heart.

The impressive cinematography, the skill in direction (for a movie that seems to be telling it’s story slowly the tension is almost unbearable) and the amazing cast make this one of the best films I have seen in 2007. It is a stylistic triumph for the Coens with plenty of thrills and shock (thanks to Bardem) but this is not without a deep moral centre (Jones) to remind the audience that things like this should not happen in the world so movies like this be made. A –


"Leah: Yo Yo Yiggady Yo.
Juno MacGuff: I'm pregnant.
Leah: What? Honest to blog? Are you sure it's not a food baby? Did you eat a big lunch?
Juno MacGuff: This is not a food baby all right? I've taken like three pregnancy tests, and I'm forshizz up the spout.
Leah: How did you even generate enough pee for three pregnancy tests?
Juno MacGuff: T don't know, I drank like, ten gallons of Sunny D... I'm telling you I'm pregnant and you're acting shockingly caviler.
Leah: Is this for real?
Juno MacGuff: Unfortunately, yes.
Leah: Oh my GOD. Shit! Phuket, Thailand!

The title character in Juno, a pregnant 16-year-old played with impressively natural verbal dexterity and heart by Ellen Page, speaks in smart ass quips and geeky pop culture references.
She seems to be completely carelessness by getting pregnant (after all she gives off the impression of being a smart girl).
When she breaks the news to her parents (wonderfully played by J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney), that first impression turns out to be entirely false. She is a typical teenager. Not sure of herself and completely vulnerable.
Diablo Cody will get a lot of attention for her sparky witty dialogue, which is at times could drown the movie if lesser actors were cast. With the trio of Cody, Page and director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) the film never becomes too precious for it’s own good. It is constantly grounded so that the emotions can filter through.

Juno initially considers an abortion, but instead decides to give the baby up for adoption, with the consent of its perpetually thunderstruck father (a wonderful Michael Cera.) Page finds a willing couple in yuppies Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman). She is desperate to be a mother, and he it along for the ride.
Cracks in the marriage start to show as Juno (against her step moms advice) makes visits to the parents to be (Mark works from home and Vanessa is out)
Garner and Bateman's characters are appear to be broad caricature (she's the overeager super mom-to-be; he's the whipped sellout who still dreams of being a rock star) but the actors do a great job at adding extra depth.
Garner, in particular seems to be drawing from her recent motherhood. She is able to show this hyper excitement over being a mother, which would be overbearing if it weren't also so heartbreakingly sincere.
This is what makes the film as a whole work. For all it’s stylized set ups and dialogue the film brims over with heart. Sure you want to slap Juno across the face a few time, then hold her while she cries, but this is the same of all teenagers. Infuriating one moment, vulnerable the next. B +