Saturday, 14 February 2009

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY

Mini Review - '[Rec]'

And now for something none Oscary.

This Spanish language scare fest made me scream like a little girl. My partner tried to play it down to a more manly scream, but no. He too defied his age and gender.
The film follows a Spanish late-night television reporter, √Āngela Vidal (Manuela Velasco is fantastic form), through the lens of her cameraman, Pablo.
They are reporting for a TV show called 'While You Were Sleeping' about the happenings in a local fire station in Barcelona.
Nothing much happens (flirting, basketball) until a call where the duo follow a team of firefighters who get a call from an apartment building nearby about a trapped elderly woman.
When they arrive, they find the apartment's residents huddled in the lobby all complaining about what is going on. Apparently this woman was screaming loudly and she fell.
They go upstairs to find a woman who is obviously distressed.

Then for the next hour or so I watched (through my fingers) as hysteria breaks out. There is no real build up with this movie, so sense of dread. Unlike so many other of these docu style horrors you get no real back story of the characters to interfere in the there and now. And this makes them all the more human and much easier to root for.
This film kept me up at night.
I for on like the shaky camera work here. I find a brief shaky glimpse of something scary all the more terrifying than a full on face shot...it amps up the imagination (as well as hiding any make up mistakes).
[Rec] works, where so many other have failed, because it plays like a survival film. Nothing is overly explained, the people are all realistically flawed and best of all, it all seems plausible.

Grade: B+

Who would cross the Bridge of Death must watch with me these trailers three, ere the other side he see.

Those who read 'Watchmen' will remember the comic book story within the film called 'Tales of the Black Freighter'. Well it isn't in the film, but it has been made as a companion piece. I am sure it will appear in one of the directors many extended cuts of the film. In the mean time enjoy the trailer:



I was kind of totally buying the trailer for 'The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3' up until the the "FIVE Five five...FOUR Four four......ect" part then I though...oh dear...Tony Scott strikes again.



And now a film you may not have heard of, may never see, and may not care about, but I think anything Alfre Woodard does is more than note worthy. From the site:
"Based on real events and set in small town Texas in the year 2000, American Violet tells the story of Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), a 24 year old African-American mother of four who is swept up in a drug raid and falsely accused based on the uncorroborated testimony of a single informant. Despite the urgings of her mother Alma (Alfre Woodard), Dee rejects a plea bargain that would release her from jail but forever brand her as a felon. With the custody of her children at stake, she instead decides to take on the powerful district attorney behind it all, Calvin Beckett (Michael O’Keefe). Roberts finds herself in an unlikely alliance with ACLU attorney David Cohen (Tim Blake Nelson) and former local narcotics officer Sam Conroy (Will Patton). With inspiring courage and dignity, Dee overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles, forever changing her and the Texas justice system."
Sure the bad guys seem far too bad in this, but the film has done solid business on the festival circuit. This is the film debut of Nicole Beharie and even Variety was impressed
"Dee is an engaging, admirable lead character, and the striking, petite Beharie is a real winner, bringing energy and fortitude to a woman who easily could have joined the ranks of society's victims and losers. Bright things lie ahead for this charismatic thesp."


Friday, 13 February 2009

Just a couple of stunning movie posters

for films I really want to see...


Mini Review - 'Rachel Getting Married'

Have you ever had the experience where you are at a party and you are a stranger. You know no one there, but everyone is so warm and real and loving and flawed that you soon get to know them like you know yourself. By the end of the party you do not want to leave because the thought of not being amongst these people makes you feel incredibly sad.

This is the exact experience I had whilst watching this movie.
Forget the performances (everyone is PERFECT! Every performance rings true, I cannot fault anyone in this ensemble).
Forget the fact that this is not real life, that someone had to sit down and write these characters.
Also forget that Jonathan Demme, who directed 'The Silence of the Lambs', has created a film so honest that as a viewer you do not merely watch it as you live it.
To remind yourself of any of these things would be to remind yourself that this is simply a movie. Something I did not want to remember until it ended.

Grade: A

For an little angry side note I discovered after watching the film and looking up reviews:
Some reviewers have made negative comments on the fact that this seems to be a United Nations wedding and that in real life you never get such a cross section of ethnicities together.
I say that is just thinly disguised racism.
These people obviously no not socialize outside of their own race very often and were not able to relax admist so many different skin colours....more's the pity for them.
I am lucky in that I never once stopped enjoying this experience to count the racial diversity, it simply did not matter as it made sense within the context of an interracial marriage and a family where the patriarch is a musician.
I mean to quote Madona.."Music makes the people come together". Nuff said

Revolutionary Link

Awards Daily has a 'Doubt' FYC. It really does make me like the film even more watching this! You?

And more of 'Doubt' and especially the woman who I would like to see win the Oscar (sorry Penelope, I really am, it is a toss up), head over to Stinky LuLu for a fantastic write up of Viola Davis's miraculous performance. (it is me or are you smelling an upset as well?)

I should really leave this for Music Tuesdays but you need to go over to Arjan Writes and check out The Klaxons remake of Blackstreets 'No Diggity'. It is a good cover, staying true to the original. These white boys know better than to mess.

Fataculture reports on the news (I am just catching up) about Slumdog and the original song scandal. Lordy, who is running the campaign? Trust then to get voters to go for the WORST song of the two!

Empire reports on the new film by Chris Nolan!

The 'Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire' saga continues with the news of the financial trouble of Lionsgate.

Only Jose could follow up his review of this film, with a review of this film. Totally miles apart. Was he at some strange and rather inappropriate double bill?
Jose my dear...do you live in a cinema? If so do you have a usher to show you to your seat/bed/sofa?

EW reports on that 'Fame' remake. Still not sure what to think of this...oh wait, I don't watch TV much so why do I care. I care because I love Karen.

One of 2008 BIGGEST money makers is teaming up with Demi Moore for something that I would do unspeakable acts to attend. I mean really, could it get much better than this? When I say unspeakable, you have no idea how depraved I will go!
We are talking about my Queen hosting a party to celebrate one of my biggest obsessions.
I mean for me not to receive a personal invite, plane tickets, hotel accommodation and some muscly oily boys to carry my luggage from her Madge-esty herself would be an absolute affront to my person.

Nat the fantastic has a wonderful interview with everyones little ray of sunshine, Amy Adams.

My sexy boy gets all hot and bothered (yay) over the 'Tokyo' trailer.

Robert Ebert gives a fantastically fun review of 'Friday the 13th' I mean when talking about the film he says "I know what you're thinking. No, I haven't seen them all. Wikipedia saw them so I didn't have to. The question arises: Why does Jason continue his miserable existence, when his memoirs would command a seven-figure advance, easy?". The man is funny.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

'Sin Nombre' - trailer

This was one of the few critical hits of Sundance. The reviews have made this out to be visionary film making of the highest level. Whether or not it is an award magnet, it is bound to be one of the big critical hits of 2009.


Sin Nombre
Uploaded by azmovies

Another 'Push' post

And this time a long one!

Below is a transcript from Reuters about the 'Push' lawsuit. It is a long but interesting read goes into the slippery and shady dealing of the festival circuit.

I am at a cross roads on this though. I think Lionsgate is not a heavy enough player alone to get this film seen, however with Oprah's stamp of approval and her name attached as a presenter will certainly help get this film seen. Also the involvement of Tyler Perry, who Lionsgate are distributors of his films and therefore understand the 'urban market' will help greatly. Would Oprah and Tyler Perry still support this film if it was being distributed by The Weinstein Company?
Lionsgate has proven successful with the 'urban market' but can they get this film to branch out? Can they get the non urban market to see it? (Am I therefore urban since I want to see it?... so confuzzed!)

If TWC wins the lawsuit and gets distribution rights on the film, things could go so many different ways. Sure Harvey is capable of buying awards and media attention for his films, but he is also well known for dumping films with difficult promotion onto the back shelf.
He is also incredibly arrogant and insists on playing editor with his movies...hence the nick name' Harvey Scissor Hands'.
He edits them down to the most conservative and Academy Awards friendly version the film could possibly be which, in the case of Push, would make it only eligible for the short film Oscar.

However should he win, enough people have seen the film that he would be idiotic to cut it, or shelf it. This film is very anticipated now, although by those few in the know.
So perhaps The Weinstein Company is the best distributor for the film, although I doubt it. I cannot see Winfrey jumping ship without Perry who will not leave Lionsgate.

With overseas distribution set all they really need to worry about is domestic. Whatever the outcome, TWC or Liongate, or even a joint venture, it needs to get sorted. This type of public sh*t slinging can only end up hurting the movie and the people who created it.

It seems everyone has something to say about this. NY Mag is arguing from the stance of who really cares as no one is going to see it (they are now added to my list....calling me a no body! The nerve!).

The New York Times talks about the marketing challenges but is much more fair and open minded than others have been, but I have to wonder if the people saying things like "Maybe Weinstein should just count his blessings and cut n' run." are they type of people who pass by a film about a poor obese black girl no matter how critically acclaimed based solely on subject matter?

On the other side of the argument, Defamer makes some witty but oh so true observations about the marketing potential of the film while questioning the NY Times article. It seems the movie has some people really rallying for it to be seen.
Also letting their voices been heard is Cinematical who I am echoing by saying the only real winner here are the lawyer, and Nikki Fink who sounds very angry by all this hoopla but who also (rather depressingly) sides with the stance that no one will go and see this film.
Pity this seems to be the case with a lot of journalists. They seem to like the film, but the minute they write 'no one will want to see this' they can immediately turn off those who might.
Instead everyone who likes/loves this movie should really be 'Push'ing it and not focusing on how they assume it will make no money.

For more details about the lawsuit check out this from The Hollywood Reporter.

For those of you who simply just care about seeing the film, here are scenes featuring Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe, Mo'Nique and Mariah Carey:



I am so excited to see this!!!

'Inglourious Basterds' trailer



Now I would rather walk on my lips than insult anyone, but....... is it me or is Brad Pitt just not a very good actor. I still have to see 'Burn After Reading' (this weekend I promise) but I read somewhere a critique about his acting, saying he is not an actor for close ups, simply because he does not have the necessary facial expressions to convey complex emotions.
Basically when I was younger and dreamed of being and actor, I would stand in front of the bathroom mirror and re-enact lines from 'The Silence of the Lambs'. I would say the lines, but my face was not able to convey the emotions making me look rather comical. That is what Brad Pitt reminds me of. Even from this trailer I watch him I want to scream at him "More Brad!!!! GIVE ME MORE!!!"

Mini Review - 'Australia'

Baz Lurhman is one ambitious little f*cker.
With he latest epic he has combined three films into one.
The first film is the story of Lady Ashley (Nicole Kidman) trying to hold onto her land after the death of her husband. To do this she must team up with a Drover (Hugh Jackman) to heard her cattle across the outback to sell it for meat for the troop in the war. All the while her competition in the cattle trade are following her, hell bent on either killing the cattle or her, which ever happens first.

The second film is the story of the Japanese invasion of Darwin Australia in World War II.

The third film is about the Australian governments disgusting policy of removing half cast Aboriginal children from their families with the intent of breeding out the 'native' in them. These children were sent to missions, eventually to become servants.

All riveting stories, however unfortunately Lurhman tries to tackle each of them, paying not enough attention to make one truly stick, even when he makes each one a back drop for one romantic story. Because each section is dealt with so swiftly they each come across as not nearly as important as they should.
The acting across the board if good, but not great. I do wish they had told the story differently and had Nicole's character as Australian. It would have been such a kick to hear her in her native tongue.
On the plus side the technical aspects are sensational. Every screen shot could be framed and hung on a museum wall. The set's have a life and character of their own and the costumes say more about character that at times the actors do. The whole look of the film evokes the grand romantic epics of the 1940's and 50's, even the special effects are more vibrant and stunning than they probably would be.

To call 'Australia' a failure would be wrong. It is a beautifully spectacular missed opportunity.

Grade: B-

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Swoon

Mini Review - "The Visitor"

To call the visitor 'slight' would do it a great disservice. It is a wonderful little film about the struggles of illegal immigrants in the US, but it somehow feels 'slight' as if it is something not fully realised.
There is a great film somewhere here, just not what we see in front of us.

Richard Jenkins gives a text book restrained performance as Walter Vale. He is a man of very few words, and the words he does utter seem to have no real impact other than getting his message across. Even in his big emotional (oscar clip) scene he is not very....well....fluent.
So for a man of no verbal prowess, how does he express himself? Well his action speak much more loudly than his words do. He is a kind man and his life has finally found meaning after the death of his beloved wife, with the introduction Tarek and Zainab, a young couple living in his apartment. He sacrifices his job to help them and Tarek's mother Mouna and along the way finds that his heart beats as loudly as a drum (awwwwww).

Thomas McCarthy directs the film with no flourish, keeping the focus squarely on the lead character, and the story that is unfolding. This works to the emotional success of the film, but also to what I felt was its downfall.
With a stripped bare style we are not manipulated by stirring strings or long close ups, which works very well with this type of story. The thing about this stripped down style is when you shave make sure there are no cracks exposed.

The whole plight of the illegal immigrant is seen from the perspective of a very white and very American male. As a viewer I was a little confused as to the point of the film. Were we supposed to feel bad for this man who had a home, a life and an income (he has two homes so he wasn't struggling) because he has to say goodbye to people he doesn't really know?
was that the point of the film?
Is the only contact we have with the illegal immigrants of our world just as fleeting? The only difference is he bothered to get to know them?

I am not sure what the answer is, or what the film really had to say. Is the plight of these people who come to our country for amnesty unfair...well of course it is, however, with 'The Visitor' I wanted to know less about Walter and much more about Tarek, Zainab and Mouna (the wonderful Hiam Abbass who is wonderfully natural as well as the emotional centre of the film).
I want to know about their stories.

Grade : B-

Berlin

Well so far Berlin has bought us nothing really in terms of news as to who we should be keeping a beady eye on in 2009.

Here is some of the noteworthy news.

'The Young Victoria' was met with a cheer, but not deafening. The film is liked and is said to be emotional, and that can go very far in terms of box office and awards.
Notices for Emily Blunt are very good so if it is another weak year for lead actresses we could easily see her in the race (I am hoping to see some blistering female performances this year).
"Blunt’s controlled portrayal of the young woman’s fractionally different attitudes to the two main men in her life is one of the pic’s major delights."

'London River' about the bombing of London in 2005 and is said to be an affecting film with a strong central turn from Brenda Blethyn, who has been noticeably absent from the Oscar roster of late. This is unlikely to be her return. The film is said to have some major script problems, mainly with cliched dialogue.
Pity, as I do love me some restrained Blethyn (rarely seen I know)

'Rage' was doomed right when Screen International posted this review:
"It's just as well Jude Law looks good as a transsexual. Because there's little else on offer for the audience in Sally Potter's amateurish and self-indulgent fashion-industry satire and murder mystery, except perhaps the emotion that gives the film its name."
Full review here

'Mammoth' was met with a loud resonating 'DUD' and no praise was throw the way of its two stars Michelle Williams and Gael Garcia Bernal.

'The Private Lives of Pippa Lee' which boasts a cast of Robin Wright Penn, Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore, Alan Arkin,Winona Ryder, Maria Bello and Monica Bellucci is said to be a very flawed film with "Cardboard characters and severe problems of tone fatally " (Variety). It has been picked up for distribution so perhaps there will be an audience. There is supposed to be a terrific performance from Julianne Moore in an elongated cameo.

Lastly, 'Cheri' was to be Michelle Pfeiffer's welcome embrace back into Oscar consideration. However the film has not been favourably reviewed, and Pfeiffer's awards chances can be considerably hurt by this type of review from Variety
"Still impossibly beautiful as she approaches 50 -- too much, in fact, for the role -- Pfeiffer has elegance to spare. However, she's not quite up to the nuances of Hampton's dialogue or the inner feelings of a retired courtesan awakened by a spoiled, moody boy. (It's a role that may have been better attempted by Jessica Lange, (one of the exec producers.)"
When a reviewer suggests another actress for the role while reviewing you, things ain't good, although Screen International was much kinder

However Kathy Bates has been said to steal the film and has the type of praise that can easily last till the end of the year:
"Bates is the only cast member to inject a sense of real bitchiness and vivacity into the dialogue, with her handling of lines to Lea like, "Don't you find that when the skin is a little less firm, it holds perfume so much better?" an ongoing pleasure." - Variety
Bates is well liked when it comes to awards season and should be able to hold up a fight.
Plus director Stephen Frears has a great track record with getting his actresses nominated (6 and counting)
It will be interesting to see how this will translate, and specifically what is made of the lead performance once everyone gets a look.

Best prospects for Oscar 2010:

Kathy Bates - Best Supporting Actress for 'Cheri'
Emily Blunt - Best Actress for 'The Young Victoria'

Yet to be seen is Parker Posey and Demi Moore in hot indie director Mitchell Lichtenstein's two-sisters drama 'Happy Tears' but don't expect too much.

Microsite


Empire have launched it's microsite for the Oscars here:

My favourite section has to be the 'snub' page. For the first time in a long time I agree with the snub list, especially the quote:
"Here's a thought: the ghettoisation of animation, foreign films and documentaries increasingly means that the Best Picture category doesn't contain many of the Best Pictures of the year."
Hear hear!!!

Next they will have a Comedy/Musical section!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I am such a disgrace!

Did you read the below post (well not the post below, the one before this one)?
If you did you will have noticed that it has nothing what-so-ever to do with Music Tuesdays. I have broken my own rule. Sure I am not listening to that much new music right now (next week I have stuff to talk about...thanks Jose!) but that is no excuse to constantly delve into the world of movies......I mean the below post could have waited until tomorrow (in fairness to myself I forgot the date change before I pressed 'publish').

So to make up for it I will both celebrate the sister of size, Gabourey Sidibe, star of 'Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire' in the form of music.



Mika's - "Big Girls (You Are Beautiful)"

Harvey, Harvey, Harvey


Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire has already spawned duelling lawsuits from Lionsgate Films and The Weinstein Co..

On Wednesday they filed lawsuits in Los Angeles and New York, both claiming they had an agreement with producers to distribute the film. Since Lionsgate was the officially announced distributor it only makes sense this would happen. Apparently Harvey Weinstein was circling the project, but not putting anything in writing. He was most likely dilly dallying on the film worried about the publicity (poor/black/obese) side of things (you know he is all about Oscar collecting - no matter how good, voters will most likely not watch the thing) so Lionsgate, Tyler Perry and Oprah swept in and Harry is not happy. His dream of being the hero and getting a black overweight discovery and a black overweight comedienne Oscar noms has floated away and he wants that glory back!

In a statement, attorney Bert Fields said The Weinstein Co. had a "firm agreement" (most likely a 'we will see') with the film's producers and that Lionsgate interfered (ie stepped up). Lionsgate claims the producers signed a written agreement stating they had no written or verbal agreement with Weinstein. Ain't Harvey a twat. When he doesn't get his way he has to go and sh*t all over everything. The only people who would really suffer is the film makers.

anywho the film was screened for overseas buyers and it was a phenomenal success! Icon Film Distribution has picked up UK and Australian rights. The deal was closed by international sales agent Elephant Eye Films which screened Push to a packed house of buyers on Saturday morning. Noble took Scandinavian rights after the screening and Front Row bought the Middle East.

Icon UK president Hugo Grumbar said "I think it's a unique film - courageous and creative, it has to be seen. That is why we are in independent distribution, to release films like this."

You have no idea how excited I am!!!

They're back!

Yep. The Prodigy are back!

I am one of those who looks like a top ten follower, but in reality I love all sorts of music. I have never been to a rave (unless you count dancing rave style in a cave for a High on Hope party in Bermuda a rave) but I sure loved the music coming out of that culture.

The Prodigy were rave culture to me.

They have released a new track 'Omen'. Sure it sounds like their old stuff, but when your old stuff sounds like the below, I really do not mind:



Left to Right:

"Out of Space"
"No Good"
"Charly"
"Firestarter"
"Smack My Bitch Up"
"Omen"

Monday, 9 February 2009

Watchmen...

...or how fanboys can ruin just about anything.

I have been reading about how Zach Snyder the director of 'Watchmen' has altered a few things in the film, including the ending. He claims that the ending keeps the spirit of the novels ending, but is done in a visually different way.

Of course fanboys have started ranting an raging......and the funny thing is without having seen the film to see if the newly realized ending does in fact, work.

Can anyone think of one great film that has been able to adapt an equally brilliant book without changing a few things?

People need to shut the frig up and wait to see the end result before judging. Of course there will be those people who loved the book so much that they will not enjoy the film on principal, but come on, let a finished product speak for itself.

I mean any film that can bring these guys to life is going to be on top of my most anticipated lists.


And that reminds me. I must start working on my most anticipated films of 2009 before the year ends. In fact I need to do anything to forget the blandness of 2008

BAFTA Winners

Well the winners have been announced. Is this race over yet? I mean EVERYTHING has been so predictable. Where is the suspense and surprise?

I mean the only thing that could happen is a Viola win over Penelope, a Mickey win over Sean and really...that is it.

I need some excitement. Perhaps I should start looking at the 2010 race more closely and preparing myself for that!
BEST PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire
BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader
BEST ACTOR: Micky Rourke, The Wrestler
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
BRITISH FILM: Man on Wire
ANIMATED FILM: WALL•E
CARL FOREMAN AWARD: Steve McQueen, Hunger
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: I’ve Loved You So Long
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
VISUAL EFFECTS: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
MAKEUP and HAIR: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SCORE: AR Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
SOUND: Slumdog Millionaire
EDITING: Slumdog Millionaire
COSTUMES:
The Duchess
RISING STAR: Noel Clarke
SHORT ANIMATION: Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death
ACADEMY FELLOWSHIP: Terry Gilliam

Sunday, 8 February 2009

"I'M COMMING FOR ALL OF YOU!"

Friday's Battlestar Galactica was a rollercoaster ride. I quit smoking on Christmas day and watching this 'edge of your seat emotional thrill ride' made me wanna start up again!


May Emmy voters burn in hell!!