Saturday, 24 January 2009

Mini Review - 'Doubt'

I can imagine this being an extremely great stage play. With the crackling dialogue, moral ambiguity and small cast, I can see it being theater of the highest calibre.
As a movie it is merely just quite good.
Perhaps it is the subject matter, a nun starts a witch hunt against a priest she 'suspects' is a pedophile (is this some sort of Iraq war allegory?) that seems better suited for the stage?
Or perhaps seeing a performance up close on the big screen leaves less speculation as to the characters motivations.
There has been so much talk as to whether Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) did molest the boy or didn't, as if it was open ended.
I saw it plain as day.
He has, maybe not this boy, but he has.
Hoffman is more charming that he has been in other roles, and he handles his scenes with Streep admirably, however it is not a performance that lingers.
What you do remember is the women of 'Doubt'.
Adams has the difficult task of bringing a very dull and innocent character to life, and she does a fantastic job. Her need to see the good in people is clouded by her own instincts. Instincts she cannot even muster to acknowledge until something she sees brings it to the surface. It is a quiet but captivating performance.
Streep is, well, she is Streep. At first you are un-nerved by the performance. There are certain Streepisms on display (the way she pauses for dramatic/comedic effect) but early on you see the humanity beneath the hardness. She plays Sister Aloysius with conviction. Emotions come out as anger and rage when her matter-a-fact mask begins to crack. By the end of the film, when her humanity spills forth it is not a shock, or a surprise. It is something we all saw coming from the very beginning, even if she didn't.
I will leave the greatest praise till last.
Viola Davis has said she cannot understand her character's motivation. You would never guess it by how she handles it. Mrs Miller is a woman who loves her child. She has to make tough and soul destroying decisions based on her child's well being and future. In an all too short scene David paints a stunningly dramatic picture of a woman, and everything she has experienced up until this moment. As a viewer you are taken aback, not because of the acting, but because of sucker punch she delivers. Can a mother turn her eye on one horrible act happening to her child, so that a second and possibly worse one can be prevented? It is amazing acting, and deserving of all the year end kudos bestowed upon her.

As the hours distance myself from the film, the impact of the story has faded greatly (although the ambiguity keeps you thinking), but the power of the performances still knock the wind out of me.

Grade: B+


It is just horrible. I really do not want to see the film based solely on the horrific voice over. It sounds like a 70's horror 'B' movie trailer voice over.

Mini Review 'The Reader'

At one point in the film I could not get the image of Harvey Weinstein sitting in the editing room with his scissors licking his lips and planning his Oscar campaign.
Outside of the performances, this film really did nothing for me.
It was nicely shot, with nice music, but it all felt far too generic.
The idea of a film focusing on German guilt about the holocaust is very interesting one, however if you are looking for a in depth look at that guilt, you won't find it here.
Instead you are served up with a flimsy excuse for the most unthinkable behavior of people, not matter how well sold by powerfully restrained performances.
What saves this film is the performances of Winslet and German actor David Cross. Cross nails his performance. The youthful idealism, the heartbreak of relationships and the confusion of a shocking revelation about the only person you have loved, all play amazingly across his face.
As for Winslet, well she hardly ever does any wrong. She has a difficult task of playing a woman who has done unthinkable things. She never plays the part for sympathy or sentimentality which works wonders for the film. She deserves her place in the Best Actress line up.
However, when Leno Olin (In a smart and wonderfully restrained, dual performance) says near the end of the film: "Go to the theater if you want catharsis," I had to think to myself "not this theater".

Grade: C+

Friday, 23 January 2009

'Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire'

""Push" has no bounds. It's a disturbing, overwhelming story of one Harlem girl's merciless degradations. An overwhelming, masterful dramatic competition entrant, this Lee Daniels film may have no bounds in the awards categories here at Sundance. It would not be surprising to see "Push" pull in both the Audience Award and Jury Award."
So say the Hollywood Reporter

I get the feeling I am ramming this down my few loyal readers throats. You all know that this is probably my numero uno most anticipated film of 2009.
When Nathaniel over at The Film Experience first mentioned this film last year I was immediately struck by the synopsis. So much so I looked up the book and the story of the lead actress.
Over the year I constantly checked up for any news and was always met with 'nothing'. My good friend Andra, after seeing me mention the film on here, told me I have to read the book, it is a modern day 'Color Purple'.
Well that sold me.

I still haven't read the book (it is on order through, but only second hand which sucks ass as it is taking forever), but that doesn't mean I am going to stop posting on this film.
The reviews from Sundance are stellar. Not only is the film getting standing ovations and raves, but lead actress (newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) and supporting actress (Mo'Nique - yes her!) are garnering serious awards buzz.

Do not believe me?

Check these out:

First here are the raves for Sibide:
".....played with astonishing rawness by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe.....Sidibe's performance as Precious is fantastic -- fully realized, perfectly authentic, and without a hint of contrivance. It's the sort of debut that will either be followed by a stellar career, or that she'll never be able to live up to...." Eric D. Snider - Cinematical

"As Precious, Sidibe is superb, allowing us to see the inner warmth and beauty of a young woman who, to her world's cruel eyes, might seem monstrous. " Duane Byrge - Hollywood Reporter

"A huge amount of the credit must go to newbie Gabourey Sidibe, who plays Precious. Her performance is so thorough, so all-encompassing, so natural, that a fantasy sequence where she's not talking like a mumbly ghetto girl is actually shocking. There's one scene at the end where a teary-eyed Precious gets a little too poetic and speechtastic for the character, but Sidibe makes it work. She sells every moment of pain and self-doubt and self-loathing with bottomless sincerity and truth. It's a stunning debut." Davin Fraci -

"Front and centre is newcomer Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe whose brave performance as the teenager Precious Jones is one of the most electrifying debuts in years." Mike Goodridge - Screendaily

"The director, Lee Daniels, shows us the awful circumstances that have caused Precious to be the way she is (she is pregnant -- for the second time -- by her drug-addict father), and the actress Gabourey Sidibe plays her without a flicker of sentimentality, but with barely visible tremors of emotion that cue us to everything this arrested girl is holding back. ......... it's a potent and moving experience, because by the end you feel you've witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul" Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

And for Mo'Nique:
"...there are eye-opening turns by Mo'Nique, who helps us understand Precious' mother's frame of mind without making her sympathetic;" Eric D. Snider - Cinematical

"As Precious' hideous mother, Mo'Nique is cruelty incarnate. It's an astonishingly powerful performance. " Duane Byrge - Hollywood Reporter

" 'Push' is a horror movie, of course, and Mary is a monster, whose one glimmer of humanity -- which Mo’Nique, who is utterly brilliant, reveals in a tour de force soliloquy at the finale -- only makes her more horrible." John Anderson - Variety

"What I really appreciated about Mo'Nique's performance was not only how rotten she was willing to go but how she maintained that even during a big emotional scene where we get to understand why she is the way she is. Mo'Nique lays the character bare for us but never begs for us to feel bad for her or to change our opinion of her. The actress - and the film - knows that understanding isn't the same as accepting. Were Mo'Nique (and Sidibe) to be nominated for Oscars in 2010 I wouldn't imagine raising a stink. I wouldn't imagine raising anything but a glass in their direction for two performances that shatter with their honesty." Davin Fraci -

"Comedienne Mo'Nique is sensational as the mother and her work in the confrontation scene at the film's finale is awards-worthy" - Mike Goodridge - Screendaily

Even Todd McCarthy has high praise for the two actresses.

The sad news is the film still has not found distribution. I do not think I can even imagine a studio brave enough to take this film on as it is going to be a tough sell.
I am sure it will be bought and distributed, and most importantly seen.
I would not be surprised in HBO tackled this for TV as getting people into theaters to see a film about a black, obese, illiterate teenager pregnant with her second child because of her fathers repeated rapes will be a tough sell admist the superhero films and rom coms.
I have been so happy with the coverage Entertainment Weekly has given the film, they are always there to shout out about the smaller things they believe in and kudos to them. They did a wonderful write up here on the women of the film.
Scott Foundas of 'OC Weekly' (?) did not love the film, even saying it was sloppy in places, but also has this to say:
"Not one for subtlety, Daniels puts black female lives destroyed by abuse and defeatism on the screen with a brute-force intensity and lack of sentimentality (The Color Purple this certainly isn’t). He also gathers a collection of startlingly effective performances from such unlikely players as Mo’Nique (whose monster mom is anything but a one-note villain), Mariah Carey (deglamorized as an empathetic social worker) and the magnanimous Sidibe, who carries this exhausting and strangely exhilarating film on her mighty shoulders. Push is far from perfect, but there isn’t much I’ve seen at Sundance this year that I wouldn’t trade for the sight of a hard-won smile finally making its way across Precious Jones’ stoic, beautiful, wounded face."
That is enough for me. The image and sentiment brings a tear to my eye.
I know a lot of you dear reader, like me, love stories with powerful performances from women. This film is said to be just that, except the packages the women come in are not your usual 'red carpet ready' size zeros which may make this film harder to be seem. I will see it, and I hope you all go and see it too when it comes your way.

I promise to remain silent for a while on this (until I find more news/film clips/trailers.

Looking Ahead to 2009/10 Awards race

I know this awards race is not over, but the Oscar nominations were ho hum, and boring and kind of yucky all around.
So with great pleasure I am looking towards the films (mainly the performances) that have shown at Sundance to positive word of mouth:

'Rudo y Cursi' - Diego Luna & Gael Garcia Bernal star in one of the biggest hit in Mexican cinema.
Both are said to be fantastic together.
Not sure of the acting prospects as ofyet, but this could be a strong contender for Best Foreign Film. The reviews say it is crowd pleasing (and you know how far that can go). Screen International said:
"this crowd-pleaser is bound to be one of the year's more successful foreign-language titles, if not necessarily a critical slamdunk."

'Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire' has already garnered a lot of praise. If it gets distribution and is handled well, it could see itself making the round at various awards show. Praise for the direction and screenplay aside, a majority of the attention will be aimed at Gabourey 'Gabby' Sibide, Mo'Nique and perhaps Mariah Carey for their performances.
In reviewing it, Cinematical said:
"Sidibe's performance as Precious is fantastic -- fully realized, perfectly authentic, and without a hint of contrivance. It's the sort of debut that will either be followed by a stellar career, or that she'll never be able to live up to. I hope we get a chance to see what else she can do. Meanwhile, there are eye-opening turns by Mo'Nique, who helps us understand Precious' mother's frame of mind without making her sympathetic; and Mariah Carey, who's almost unrecognizably un-glamorous as a social worker. "

'Amreeka' - A Palestinian mother and son clash head-on with the American heartland in this tender and droll feature debut from Arab-American director Cherien Dabis. Nisreen Faour has been singled out by various reviews for her warm and focused performance. Warm doesn't usually cut it with Oscar, but you never know.
Variey says:
"From the West Bank to White Castle flips the resilient heroine of "Amreeka," a culture-clash dramedy whose background in Middle-East conflict is leavened with vibrant energy, balanced politics and droll humor by first-time feature director Cherien Dabis. Enormously appealing turn by earthy Nisreen Faour in the lead role of Muna, a Palestinian single mother who brings her teenage son to rural Illinois in pursuit of a brighter future, more than makes up for the film's familiarities."

'Five Minutes of Heaven' sees acclaimed director of 'Downfall' Oliver Hirschbiegel directing Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and Anna Maria Marinca in a film about two men who struggle to come to terms with the murder of a fellow 19-year-old Catholic soldier years after the conflict that raged between Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups, the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The film has been raved by Cinematical, Screen International, and Variety's Dennis Harvey who says:
Powerhouse performances by Liam Neeson and James Nesbit make this an intense, ultimately moving tale...

'The Cove' - I will be talking about this later.

'The Greatest' - Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan have been singled out in this film about a middle-aged couple coping with the loss of their 18-year-old son – not to mention the imminent and unexpected birth of his child. I had already spoken about this a few weeks ago when look out for the films Susan Sarandon had coming up, and it still could go either way, but early word is very positive, especially for Brosnan and newcomer Mulligan. Todd McCarthy of Variety says:
"Thesps do admirable, potent work, with Brosnan coping well with the sort of heavy dramatic lifting he only occasionally undertakes; Sarandon channeling a mother's distressed obsession with complete conviction; and Mulligan, a British newcomer who proves a revelation in another Sundance entry, "An Education," bringing a bracing resilience to a teenager for whom one night changed the rest of her life"

'An Education' - Varitey already gave you a preview of the buzz surrounding this film starring Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan based on well-known UK journalist Lynn Barber's childhood memoirs has been quite big, especially for it's leading lady. Todd McCarthy at Variety went ga ga:
"Sarsgaard, sporting a decent accent and an ever-present twinkle in his mischievous eyes, marvelously expresses the savoir faire that has such an impact on Jenny. Cooper and Pike suggest the last gasp of overly fussy high style that will soon be replaced by Carnaby Street trendiness, Molina and Seymour aptly fill out their traditional roles, Emma Thompson has a couple of key scenes as the school headmistress, and Matthew Beard is touchingly gawky as a smitten student who realizes Jenny's out of his reach the moment David appears on the scene.
But there's no question of who the star is here. Mulligan, 22 when the picture was shot, is completely convincing as 16 going on 17. Attractive without being a knockout, she tangibly communicates Jenny's thirst for knowledge, her attraction to culture and impatience atconservative ways of thinking and behaving. The way she tosses off little French phrases may be pretentious, but it adorably indicates where her head is. And when she finally gets to Paris and puts up her hair, you could almost swear you're watching Audrey Hepburn skipping through the same streets 50 years ago."

'The Messenger' - Ben Foster, Jena Malone, Samantha Morton and Woody Harrelson star in this film about an Iraq War hero assigned to work for the Casualty Notification Office -- those uniformed bearers of bad news who show up on the doorsteps of parents and wives with word of a soldier's death. The Reviews have been very good if wary about the commercial prospects of another Iraq film. Most of the praise is heaped on Foster. Variety said "Nobody plays angry like Ben Foster, but compassion is something new for the actor, who softens his crazy-man shtick to deliver a complex and moving performance..."
Screen International went further saying:
"Ben Foster is a revelation here, carrying the film and delivering his first true adult performance after a string of youthful turns in 3:10 To Yuma, X-Men: The Last Stand and Alpha Dog.........Harrelson gives one of his best performances as the army lifer Stone, a likeable sort behind the bravado, and Morton is excellent as always as the gentle widow...."

I am not saying these films are going to light up the Awards race in any way, but they could, and as Melissa Leo proves this year, never ever underestimate a buzzed about performance at Sundance.

"It's exactly like Forrest Gump, except no AIDS"

It's funny 'cause it's true

You can't make everyone happy.

And so spoke Zoe to Poppy while rowing a boat in London near the end of Mike Leighs wonderful and winning film 'Happy-Go-Lucky'.
It turns out this is unfortunately true, but there was no harm in Sally trying.

So why was Sally Hawkins not nominated, especially over Angelina Jolie?
That is the question I want the Academy to answer...and now dammit.
I think most people would agree that not only was she fantastic in the role, but it was an extremely difficult role to pull off, and not only did she, but she added amazing layers to Poppy. Most critics agree, so why not SAG, BAFTA and Oscar?

Here are some possible reasons:
For starters, BAFTA is a joke. They move their awards to become a precursor to Oscar. That shows no backbone and no striving to be different. It seems they have bowed down to the US film industry. They seem to be sending out a message that, yes, America does it better, by putting best British film in a category all it's own. Shouldn't it should be Best Film, and then a Best non-British film category? That category simply makes it seem like they are admitting to being less then they are. Very sad indeed. I mean 'Mama Mia' better than 'Happy-Go-Lucky'? Please.

In the past 10 years, this is the lowest showing for non North American actors, with only 3 nominated (Kate, Heath, Penelope). Each of those actors were in very high profile films (Best Pic Nominee, Highest Grossing Film and Woody's return). Sally is in a small film, and a comedy at that. No matter how many precursor awards she clocked up, it would always be an uphill battle with SAG and Oscar.

Oscar voters are miserable people. I mean look at the films they choose for Best Picture. They love to wallow in grief. Even 'Slumdog' is pretty grim in places. 'Happy-Go-Lucky' is a comedy with a permanently happy and joyous person as the lead. I can see how she could be annoying to the old misery guts of the Academy.

Brangelina at the awards was too much to pass up. They need some ratings boost since they were gonna snub The Dark Knight anyway (then again is the child collecting couple really that much of a draw anymore?)

She was just far too good and made it all look too easy. Remember the Academy like to see that you are acting, how else can they judge? They need the accent, make up, weight gains, no make up, ticks and big emotional scenes because that, dear readers, is what acting is all about. Noticeability.

Mini Review 'Gran Torino'

I was so prepared to hate this film. I have never really been a fan of Clint Eastwood's movie making style (aside from the blub-fest of 'The Bridges of Madison County) so it was with great trepidation that I watched this film.
Imagine my surprise when I began to warm to his, tongue firmly in cheek, caricature of the grumpy racist old man who shows surprising depth and feeling. Sure the story of an angry old man taking on a gang that is disturbing the neighborhood is not the most inspired, but the way Eastwood handles the story keeps you in rapt attention.
Sure there are many clunky scenes in this film, but you do buy the characters he has laid out in front of you, you believe how their relationships evolve and most importantly how they bond with each other is completely plausible.
Eastwood never softens his character, he never apologizes for his racism and he doesn't have an enlightening moment, all of which I was expecting, and dreading.
For that I am thankful.
Also noteworthy is newcomer Ahney Her as the young next door neighbour Sue Lor. I am not sure if her performance was as layered as I saw it, or a totally accident due to inexperience, but she seemed to get across the wall of confidence with the fear ready to break through very well.
Clint Eastwood has made an enjoyable film, and give a throughly enjoyable performance. A shame then that he did not get a nomination from Oscar.

Grade: B

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Sundance Watch – ‘Prom Night in Mississippi’

Moving swiftly on from this morning debacle.
Can you imagine a segregated prom in this day and age? Well it happens.
Of course in America, and not shockingly in Mississippi in a town called Charlton.

Hometown celebrity Morgan freeman has offered to pay for the party is it is de-segregated, but the town elders refused.

The Documentary ‘Prom Night in Mississippi’ explores the first ever mixed prom.

Dennis Harvey of Variety summarised it this way:
“It may amaze many viewers that in this day and age -- particularly in this political moment -- an American high school would retain separate proms for black and white students. But such is the reality of "Prom Night in Mississippi," which scrutinizes a pint-sized town's travails when the school board finally consents to "try out" a first-ever colorblind fete. An upbeat portrait of youth anxious to shed their elders' prejudices, this inspirational Canadian-produced documentary is a perfectly timed crowdpleaser sure to score in broadcast and educational venues, with modest theatrical exposure possible.”

The reason this made me think, especially in terms of awards, is due to the timing. America’s first black president is in office. This is sure to be a popular documentary, and Oscar is nothing if not influenced by the times. Could we be looking at a Best Documentary nominee for 2010?

Oscar Prospects:
Best Documentary

Oscar nominations

So the AMPAS sticks a big middle finger up at the superhero genre, embraces the Holocaust (again), and tells Sally Hawkins that there is no room for a nominee who is not American and who isn't called Kate, Heath Ledger or Penelope.
Best Picture:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Reader,"
"Slumdog Millionaire."
Well the Academy sent out a message today. They do not like genre films mixing with the 'real' movies. 'WALL-E' and 'The Dark Knight' snubbed (what do you expect? The best reviewed films of the year hardly make it in. The metacritc scores go like this: Button - 69, Frost/Nixon - 80, Milk - 84, The Reader - 58 and Slumdog - 86. A 56 made it in! WOW!
Best Actor:
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor";
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon";
Sean Penn, "Milk";
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button";
Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

Ugh, Pitt? Really? Saw 'Gran Torino' last night and prefer Clints performance way over Pitts. Cannot argue with the rest of the bunch.
Best Actress:
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married";
Angelina Jolie, "Changeling";
Melissa Leo, "Frozen River";
Meryl Streep, "Doubt";
Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

The AMPAS need to be shot. Jolie needs to send Sally Hawkins one of her children. So upsetting and so sad for Sally who really deserved to be here. Yay for Leo though
Best Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin, "Milk";
Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder";
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt";
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight";
Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

I am one of the few who did really not like Shannon's performance at all. Way too over the top. Very 'look at me' acting. Marsan should have been there instead.
Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, "Doubt";
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona";
Viola Davis, "Doubt";
Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button";
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

Was Henson better that some of the other contenders? Not really, but she is adorable! Happy to see her here. Guess it is Cruz's to loose.
Best Director:
David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button";
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon";
Gus Van Sant, "Milk";
Stephen Daldry, "The Reader";
Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

No Nolan, No Stanton. Stephen Daldry makes only three films and is nominated for each one. Never bet against him is the new lesson learned.
Best Foreign Film:
"The Baader Meinhof Complex," Germany;
"The Class," France;
"Departures," Japan;
"Revanche," Austria;
"Waltz With Bashir," Israel.

So need to see these films.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button";
John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt";
Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon";
David Hare, "The Reader";
Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Again the Dark Knight is f*cked over. Such prejudice against the genre.
Best Original Screenplay:
Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River";
Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky";
Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges";
Dustin Lance Black, "Milk";
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, "WALL-E."

Best category yet.
Best Animated Feature Film:
"Kung Fu Panda";

Not surprised Waltz With Bashir is not here. Still need to see Bolt.
Best Art Direction:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Dark Knight,"
"The Duchess,"
"Revolutionary Road."

Wasn't Button mostly CGI? In that case WALL-E should so be here.
Best Cinematography:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Dark Knight,"
"The Reader,"
"Slumdog Millionaire."

Again, wasn't Button CGI?
Best Sound Mixing:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Dark Knight,"
"Slumdog Millionaire,"

These are the categories have have no say in as they are over my head...need to study up on them.
Best Sound Editing:
"The Dark Knight,"
"Iron Man,"
"Slumdog Millionaire,"

See above.
Best Original Score:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Alexandre Desplat;
"Defiance," James Newton Howard;
"Milk," Danny Elfman;
"Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman;
"WALL-E," Thomas Newman.

The one place I expect The Dark Knight to show up is doesn't.
Best Original Song:
"Down to Earth" from "WALL-E," Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman;
"Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Gulzar;
"O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam.

I love M.I.A. so over the moon for her. Poor Bruce though.
Best Costume:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Duchess,"
"Revolutionary Road."

Yay for Milk!
Best Documentary Feature:
"The Betrayal (Nerakhoon),"
"Encounters at the End of the World,"
"The Garden,"
"Man on Wire,"
"Trouble the Water."

Best Documentary (short subject):
"The Conscience of Nhem En,"
"The Final Inch,"
"Smile Pinki,"
"The Witness -- From the Balcony of Room 306."

Best Film Editing:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Dark Knight,"
"Slumdog Millionaire."

So....The Reader isn't good enough for here then!
Best Makeup:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Dark Knight,"
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army."
yay Hell Boy and The Joker!
Best Animated Short Film:
"La Maison en Petits Cubes,"
"Lavatory -- Lovestory,"
"This Way Up."
Presto! all the way
Best Live Action Short Film:
"Auf der Strecke (On the Line),"
"Manon on the Asphalt,"
"New Boy,"
"The Pig,"
"Spielzeugland (Toyland)."

Best Visual Effects:
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,"
"The Dark Knight,"
"Iron Man."
Surprised to see The Dark Knight here, but oh so happy. A great line up!

Is it far too dramatic to cry?

Debating if I should live blog..

But they are over so quickly aren't they. I am so nervous right now. I feel like a 17 year old girl about to loose her virginity in the 1950's.



Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Good Speech

I have been reading so much lately on how Kate Winslet gave a cringe inducing speech at the Golden Globes, and Anne Hathaway gave one at the BFCA awards. These articles are saying either that these speeches could hurt or benefit their Oscar chances.
Hurt, because no one apparently wants a twittering idiot on the stage, and help because emotion means they are honest (apparently the Academy want someone up there who is thankful to be included).

I think the people who sit around and pick apart these type of speeches are people who most probably have never ever given an off the cuff speech in their lives.
How you give a speech totally depends on who you are. Different Strokes for different folks.
We all loved Tilda Swintons’ speech last year. It was funny, easy going and she seemed very relaxed simply because, as well know, it is doubtful that she really cares much about these awards so there is no pressure.
Marion Cotillard did care, and her speech was brimming over with excitement and gratitude, and I found that adorable.

I can’t judge a speech, especially if it is not rehearsed or written down because it is an emotional scary time. You have been selected by a group of your piers as being the best of a given year, then you have to get up, walk up steps to a microphone and give a speech to a room full of those piers as well as millions of people watching you around the world, live on TV.
Talk about pressure.

So if Halle Berry thanks her lawyer, who cares?…she was happy and emotional and ran with it.
Gwyneth bawled her eyes out, true, but her dying father was with her and she lost the plot a little.
Who can blame her?
People really expect far too much from these people.
Do we forget they are human?
Christ, all through the awards race they are being judged! One would think once the award was handed out the judging would stop. Apparently not.

The only time a speech is truly horrible is if you have someone like Jennifer Connelley who read it from a piece of paper with her head down.

Or worse yet Jamie Foxx who went to every awards show giving the exact same rehearsed speech that got old, annoying, and arrogant very very quickly.

If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences giveth and taketh away based on how good or bad a precursor speech is, then all that means is they have no business saying what the ’best’ of any year is and that their awards really do not matter.
Then again, deep down, we all know this is true and get sucked in anyway (we love that air of superiority don’t we?)

So to the eventual winners this year, please get up on that stage and laugh, cry, get hysterical, do whatever you want. Go frikkin insane! Thank your colourist and the woman who gives you your colonics. . Just don’t rehearse or read!

'The Informers' trailer

The cast is interesting enough to warrant a look, but how many film about vapid LA types do we really need?

This should happen everyday!

Not movie related, but I just had to post this. This is the fantastic new T-mobile advert which was filmed at 11am on Thursday 15th January 2009 at Liverpool Street station, London

The Numbers and Final Predictions

Ok, after the BAFTA nominations everyone started to panic...myself included, about the snub of 'The Dark Knight', 'Sally Hawkins', 'Gus Van Sant' and 'Viola Davis'.
As you know I have been steadily gathering all the numbers for the top 6 awards this year. Ciritcs awards, guilds, awards bodies, top ten lists and various wins.
Let us break it down now.
For each category I am going to only give the top eight contenders in accordance to the scriptures my numbers:

Best Picture
1- Slumdog Millionaire
3-The Dark Knight
5-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
7-The Wrestler

I would say the only two locks are 'Button' and 'Slumdog', the tides could change with the rest of the other three ('Milk' is the next safest). I would say you can take out 'Happy' and 'The Wrestler' and do a pick and mix with the remaining three films and you could have a very believable Best Pic line up. I am not giving up on 'TDK' or 'WALL-E' just yet, even though everything in my brain is saying the Academy are not going to embrace two genre films in one year. However I am going with the fact the world is high on hope and the nominees will easily be 'Slumdog', 'WALL-E', 'TDK', 'Milk', 'TCCOBB', outside shot 'Frost/Nixon'

Best Director
1-Danny Boyle
2-David Fincher
3-Christopher Nolan
4-Gus Van Sant
5-Ron Howard
6-Andrew Stanton
7-Mike Leigh
8-Stephen Daldry

Easily take out Daldry.
Leave Boyle and Fincher as locks, Nolan and Van Sant as near locks and play eeany meeny miney moe with the last three. Stanton and Leigh are wild cards, but Leigh has surprised before. Since the 'Slumdog' fever I assume people want a bit of hope and joy, and that makes me think 'Happy-Go-Lucky' could be a stronger contender than people think. So being overly optimistic I say we see Boyle, Fincher, Nolan, Van Sant, Leigh. HA! outside shot Stanton.

Best Actress
1-Sally Hawkins
2-Anne Hathaway
3-Meryl Streep
4-Kate Winslet
5-Angelina Jolie
6-Melissa Leo
7-Kristen Scott Thomas
8-Michelle Williams

How funny that the person leading with precursors coming into this is the one most at risk.
Hathaway and Streep are locks. Take out Williams and you could be looking at a very interesting game for the last 3 slots.
I am not going to be surprised in Jolie is snubbed again, for what many many people think is a lesser performance. Do they really feel the need to make it up to her?
I say Hawkins, Hathaway, Streep, Winslet, Leo. Not that on a limb, but still a good(ish) set. Outside shot Jolie although can still see Williams surprising.

Best Actor
1-Sean Penn
2-Mickey Rourke
3-Frank Langella
4-Richard Jenkins
5-Brad Pitt
6-Clint Eastwood
7-Leonardo DiCaprio
8-Benicio del Torro

This is another interesting race. Penn, Rourke and Langella are locks, easily. Take out del Torro and the last two slots are looking to be filled by 4 actors. I say Eastwood will be nominated. I can just see him pulling an Ed Harris 'Pollock' last minute nom. therefore my crystal ball says Penn, Rourke, Langella, Jenkins, Eastwood outside shot DiCaprio

Best Supporting Actress
1-Penelope Cruz
2-Viola Davis
3-Marisa Tomei
4-Kate Winslet
5-Amy Adams
6-Rosemarie DeWitt
7-Taraji P. Henson
8-Alexis Zegerman

Zegerman is a pipe dream. Most likely so is DeWitt (so sad). Seven Actresses are vying for 5 slots. Will Winslet split votes or not? Who can say? It can go either way for her. She can end up with two noms, 1 nom in lead or supporting or no noms. I really believe that Cruz and Davis are the only locks, with Tomei coming up as a major possibility. I kind of closed my eyes and pointed and came up with Cruz, Davis, Tomei, Winslet, DeWitt. (I say Dewitt pulls a Marcia Gay Harden) outside shot Henson.

Best Supporting Actor
1-Heath Ledger
2-Robert Downey, Jr.
3-Philip Seymour Hoffman
4-Dev Patel
5-Josh Brolin
6-Eddie Marsan
7-Michael Shannon
8-Ralph Feinnes

For being so low on the list Brolin in a lock, as is Ledger (duh!). I am not 100% about Downey, Jr. and Hoffman, but they are very likely as well. Feinnes and Shannon are very dark horses dark I can hardly see them. That leaves Marsan and Patel. A Marsan nom would be great (how can they watch the film and not write down his name?), but would not surprise me all that much, same with Patel. Um.....Ledger, Downey, Jr., Hoffman, Patel, Brolin outside shot Marsan.

To be honest I will be watching live, expecting to very very disappointed come nomination day. No Batman, no Sally, no Marsan, no Leo, no Stanton no film to really get behind.
So wearing my heart on my sleeve is the only way I can get through it....I mean it is a nail biter ripe with disappointments isn't it?

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

alt: The Reader

Best Original Screenplay

Rachel Getting Married
Vicky Christina Barcelona
alt: In Bruges

Sundance Watch – ‘I Love You Philip Morris’

Although this film was on my radar (mainly due to Carrey's and *swoon* Ewan's involvement), the prospects of a gay centred film written by the ‘Bad Santa’ people filled me with dread.

I figured we would be getting another ‘laugh at the gays’ movie.

Apparently I may be a little wrong.

John Anderson from Variety has this to say:
“Less of a comedy than a hilarious tragedy, "I Love You Phillip Morris" stars Jim Carrey in his most complicated comedic role since "The Cable Guy" and as a character so criminal and gay it will leave auds both laughing and stunned. The rawness of the script by helmers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and sexual bluntness of Carrey and Ewan McGregor's onscreen romance could limit the film's exposure, but curiosity about Carrey's "conversion" will be a big draw. And no one can say that all involved weren't swinging for the fences.”
So now I am VERY curious as I really like Carrey as an actor and I love Ewan….oh my Ewan I do love you.

And it is about time we had some sexual bluntness….you would think people were a bunch of nuns.

How big will this be though? I can smell a Golden Globe for Carrey, but what will the overall critical response be?

Oscar Prospects:
Best Screenplay

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Madonna remixed

So I am supposed to be talking about music on Tuesdays, but I have been having a slow music week, due to the excitement of the Oscars, Sundance and general movie fabulousness.
However I have made a pact with myself that Tuesday is Music Day. But what to post about? I have not gotten any new music (a total lie..I have but just not listened to it yet) so why not spend the day revisiting my lovely lady friend Madonna, specifically some of those remixes that lurk around out there that take a well loved song and give it a new lease of life.

This is without a doubt my favourite Madonna song. ‘Like a Prayer’ is perhaps the perfect pop song ever. Most of the remixes went straight for the clubs, except for the Church-a-pella remix which went straight to the alter

‘Erotica’ has always been one of my fav’s. I just sounds like sex, dark and naughty sex. When she remixed it for the Confessions Tour with ‘Sorry’ and the original version of ‘Erotica’, ‘You Thrill Me’, the end result was sensational. It went from a raw and carnal make out track to a sensual seduction.

And so begins the sound that William Orbit would not be able to let go of when working with Madonna. When William remixed his collaboration on Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’ he added a guitar giving the song a swirling 60’s vibe. This would turn out to be a sound he couldn’t let go of on ‘Beautiful Stranger’ through to ‘Amazing’. It never sounded better on the ‘Ray of Light’ liquid mix.

Many wanna be DJ’s try and remix Madonna tracks. One of the best is Ornique, who took ‘Love Profusion’ and took it back with the retro sound Madonna and William Orbit used. Here is becomes a song you wanna travel at fast speeds to, but while looking at beautiful scenery.

She needs to re-record these and release them as singles so I can shake my shimmy on a dancefloor to them. BRILLIANT!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Mini Review - 'In Bruges'

Yes it is true.
I have finally seen the film that everyone has gone on about as the surprise of the year. The film that kind of came out of nowhere that has ended up winning it's star a Golden Globe and garnering critical praise and a loyal fan base.

And yes, I liked it very very much.

I found it funny, refreshing, touching and boasting some truly wonderful acting turns.

I hate doing the typical know, plot, critique, performances, so I will do this one differently.

What better way to do it than bullet point.

* The screenplay manages to combine tension, witty dialogue and lip quivering emotion with ease...a difficult task.

* Colin Farrell has never been better. A career defining performance.

* Ralph Fiennes was brilliant. He made me forget 'The English Patient' ! A feat unto itself.

* Brendan Gleason has painted his character with such subtle shades that he become a flesh and blood man.

* The pacing was fantastic, always kept you riveted to the screen..
* The midget/dwarf was funny and all, and served as a plot devise, but almost took away from the story.

* The hotel owner seemed to be getting developed for something that never happened. I felt a bit cheated.
And that is it. Rent it now


Firstly the Italian poster rocks! (Italians do do it better!)

When you compare it to the english poster (Someone say gothic tween flick)

Then all interest is ruined by the trailer.

I am only commenting on this because the first poster was so striking. Call this a filler post.

Mini Review - 'Revolutionary Road'

If I ever become an actor I am definitely going to start an affair with my director so I am photographed as beautifully as Sam Mendes did wife Kate Winslet.

While watching this very dark and depressing film I was not overly drawn to the story or the characters aside from the basic 'I am so on Aprils side with this'.
But a strange thing happened.
I have not been able to stop thinking about the film.

True it sheds a dark and unhappy light on relationships and the pressures they come up against, but it also makes the viewer take a look at themselves and the relationships they are or have been in.

The idea of living a life you are raised to think is normal only to find it is not what you want, and you are trapped in the confines you have yourself created is something most of us can relate to.
April Wheeler (Winslet) feels trapped. She loves her children, but regrets having them so young. She loves her husband, but also blames him for allowing them both to get trapped in this life she doesn't want. She had wanted to be an actress but was not that good. Instead she uses what talent she has to feign interest in her well meaning but dull neighbours.
No one expects women to feel this way. Even today women are supposed to desire children from an early age, and then love their lives after they have them, but in all honestly, that is hardly ever the case.
Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) is in a job he doesn't like, in a place he doesn't like living and sees no way out. His wife is unhappy and constantly picks fights with him, and he in turn goads her by not allowing her time to be angry or silent.

Both actors deliver great performances, each going down to dark and cruel places to bring these two broken people to life (as much as they can). Winslet, in particular has a difficult time of making each mood shift believable. However both are let down a little by some screenplay and directorial decisions which seem to never allow them (especially DiCaprio) to completely get under their characters skin, therefore making it hard to invest in either character (this could be mainly because I related to April and not Frank - the bf was completely the opposite and said he though Winslet was the weaker link). The first few moments of the film see the couple having a screeching argument in the car, but as a viewer, you do not know these characters well enough to take it as more than an actors showcase piece. Perhaps some more time showing the deterioration would have fixed this.
There were many times at the begining where I just wished these two would just shut the f*ck up. Perhaps a more fluid screenplay would have ironed out these sometimes completely unrealistic outbursts, or at least, allowed the viewer to understand the characters more, so when they do pick each other apart there is more of a back story to draw from.
As I got to know April, however, this didn't matter so much. She may have been overly emotional and cruel but this is a wonderful portrait of a woman who, through marriage, domesticity and motherhood has lost her identity.

However, criticisms aside, 'Revolutionary Road' has stayed with me making me think about myself and why I think the way I do, how I am similar to these people, and how I need to change. It is like low cost therapy.


Best Supporting Actress Race

Variety reviews 'Push'

I am not going to stop 'Push'ing this film. So buying the book today!
An urban nightmare with a surfeit of soul, "Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire" is like a diamond -- clear, bright, but oh so hard. To simply call it harrowing or unsparing doesn't quite cut it; "Push" is also courageous and uncompromising, a shaken cocktail of debasement and elation, despair and hope. Everyone involved deserves major credit for creating a movie so dangerous, problematic and ultimately elevating. Marketing will be a problem, because the shorthand description is so unpalatable. But this is, for all its scorched-earth emotion, a film to be loved.
Adapted by Damien Paul from the work by onetime Harlem teacher and poet Sapphire, "Push" is the story of Claireece "Precious" Jones (newcomer Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe), a character who might have sprung from the collective brain of Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison and whoever carved the heads on Easter Island. With a jutting jaw and barely visible eyes, Claireece's face is a monument to the racial crimes of the past 400 years (that this miserable child of 16 can look in the mirror and fantasize seeing a blonde white girl is pungent shorthand for a raft of evils).

Mute and mountainous, a stolid outsider who can barely read, Claireece is pregnant -- again -- by her father, and on the verge of being kicked out of school. She's also cruelly oppressed by her mother Mary (Mo'Nique), whose daily routine consists of watching daytime TV, smoking cigarettes and treating her daughter like a slave (any historical parallels are not an accident). The situation is so dire that you almost have to laugh -- the way you might laugh, nervously, during the darkest moments of a horror movie.

"Push" is a horror movie, of course, and Mary is a monster, whose one glimmer of humanity -- which Mo'Nique, who is utterly brilliant, reveals in a tour de force soliloquy at the finale -- only makes her more horrible. Along with Mary's cruelty, Claireece's sense of hopelessness, and the awareness there are more Claireeces out there, the alarming thing about "Push" its capacity to show us just about anything, much like the warped human nature it surveys.

What's also remarkable is the balletic ability of second-time helmer Daniels ("Shadowboxer") to juggle emotional extremes. Claireece has her fantasies, and their visualizations -- of the girl as satin-clad pop star, movie star or supermodel -- work as relief valves. They're never funny, but they do humanize a character who has been reduced, by those who are supposed to love her, to a piece of meat, and who presents herself to the world as a very different, far less attractive creature than the Claireece we hear in voiceover.

Daniels never allows the film, however gothic and nightmarish, to lose its footing in the real world, and that world includes a certain amount of hope: Despite her mother's hostility, Claireece enrolls in an alternative school where a teacher named Blu Rain (Paula Patton) prepares young women for their GEDs. Patton is terrific, beautiful but carrying the weight of the world in her eyes. And Claireece's classmates, with their street-smart banter, give the film some needed levity.

Among the many delightful surprises in the film is Mariah Carey, who is pitch-perfect as a welfare counselor and serves as this demi-tragedy's Greek chorus. It's possible that many viewers won't recognize her until the final credits, but like so many things about "Push," the performance is disarming.

Production values are tops.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Diesel XXX Party

Remember when sex was fun and exciting, and people talked about it. Now we have tings like nipple gate and the such. Well over in the UK Diesel had a party and sent out this invite. It was so cheeky and funny I just had to post it as part of my Sexy Sunday


Don't you wish more people saw the fun side of sex?