Saturday, 9 January 2010

Actress - The Race

Top songs of 2009

Music can really fill your soul.

So, in deciding on how many songs to put in my list, I just decided to go through my iTunes and select the songs that really spoke to me this past year, it ended up being 22, a number I really didn’t want to change, so decided to stick with it. I could not remove a single track.
In some ways music has supported me so much more that film has this year.

2009 was a amazing year for music and these are a selection of the songs that really spoke to me - and no Madonna - see I can show restraint!!!

Amadou & Mariam - Sabali
The song takes me far away from this city where the tall walls wall me. Love then now before they are featured in adverts and soundtracks galore.
Taken from their amazing album ‘Welcome to Mali’.

Basement Jaxx - Raindrops
Using every trick in the book, throwing every thing against the studio wall to see what sticks, and the result is pumping sing-a-long brilliance.
From the album ‘Scars’.

Bat for Lashes - Daniel
Sounds like the theme to a fantasy film from the 80’s. Her lush, breathless vocals and that retro synth. My iPod almost begged me to stop playing it.
From the album ‘Two Suns’.

Beyonce - Halo
Cheesily, the says what I can’t when I look at my love. I am a big ole gushy love muffin.
From the album ‘I Am....Sasha Fierce’

Black Eyed Peas - I Got a Feeling
The biggest song of 2009. I debated putting this on, but when I thought of all those fun times out with my friends, this song just came to mind.
From the album ‘The E.N.D.’.

Editors - Papillon
The alt rockers go all synth on me and I am loving it. Just waiting for some DJ to remix this and take it to new heights.
From the album ‘In This Light and On This Evening’

Florence and the Machine - Drumming
Wasn’t this song just the bomb? I mean it just has it all. Fierce female vocals, rock, dance and a hook that you never want to end.
From the album ‘Lungs’

Frankmusik - Run Away from Trouble
Yes, I love my synth. This makes you feel like you heart is breaking for no reason that just listening to his voice.
From the album ‘Complete Me’

Gossip - Heavy Cross
I am in love with Beth Ditto. She is a force to be reckoned with and she proves her artistry on this banging track.
From the album ‘Music for Men’.

Imelda May - Smokers Song
Discovered her on you tube watching Jools Holland. Bought her album and put it on repeat for days on end. This song just makes me laugh HA HA HA.
From the album ‘Love Tattoo’.

Lily Allen - The Fear
Wow, when did she become for spot on? This song is full of clever references and seriously shines a light on the state of celebrity. It also features one of the best choruses this year.
From the album ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’.

Miike Snow - A Horse is Not a Home
I really could not choose just one track. I had so many from the album on this list, but ended up doing the alphabetical sort and this one won. A stomping song.
From the album ‘Miike Snow’.

Mini Viva - Left My Heart in Tokyo
Such a guilty guilty pleasure, but man does this song give me a pick me up on a bad day. Love, love. love it.
From the album

MPHO - Box-n-Locks
Sure uses a sample from the Canadian group Martha and the Muffins single "Echo Beach", but it is a rocking stomping track that deserved much more success. This woman should be huge.
From the album ‘Pop Art’.

Mr Hudson - Supernova Ft. Kanye West
Not quite R-n-B, not Rap, not Pop, but something altogether more refreshing. This single was deservingly a big ole hit.
From the album ‘Straight no Chaser’.

Paloma Faith - Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?
Brilliant performer, singer, song, video and album. The sadness in the song is hammered home by her gin soaked vocal delivery. Deserves a cross over.
From the album ‘ Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?’.

Phoenix - Lisztomania
You just want to bop, jump, run and laugh with this song. Will be featured in quirky movies for years to come, but back in June I was skipping to work to this.
From the album ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’.

Rihanna - Cold Case Love
MY GOD. This album was bloody powerful, and then you get to this musical masterpiece. She openly deals with her public failed relationship in a brutally honest way. BRILLIANT!
From the album ‘Rated R’.

The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition
I was so upset when this was featured in ‘(500) Days of Summer’ and then charted. I really wanted this song to be all my own.
From the album ‘Conditions’.

Tiesto Ft. Tegan & Sara - Feel It My Bones
I love dance music. I love Tegan & Sara. So the combination would be nothing short of masterful. Thankfully Tiesto holds back. Just wait for the bridge “I take a breath, take a breath....” and try to control your body.
From the album ‘Kaleidoscope’.

V V Brown - Shark in the Water
Sunny, breezy Doo Whop. This song has held up throughout the year and I am shocked it was not a run away hit. I seriously hope she can last as this is a pop masterwork.
From the album ‘Traveling Like The Light’.

White Lies - Death
I just love this song so much. Got it exactly a year ago and I still get a little happy in my heart when my iPod randomly selects it.
From the album ‘To Lose My Life...’.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Actress - The Race

Ten things I was thankful for in 2009.

- 'Precious' - after nearly a year and a half of hyping myself up for this movie, I was amazed that not only did it meet my expectations, it exceeded them.

- The Film Experience - When other sites seemed to be spiralling out of control with preference pushing, or going on hiatus, Nathaniel Rogers kept up his blogging with style, humour and integrity. Still my first movie related stop in the morning and in the evening.

- Facebook - (basically saying friends and family but giving a shout out to something that kept it all together) After a bloody horrendous beginning to 2009, I am thankful for the social networking site for keeping me in contact with everyone around the world. It got me through some tough times - trust me, it is screenplay material.

- Pixar - Their back catalogue kept me smiling on nights I really just wanted to behave like a sulky brat. Then they come out with 'Up' and floor me once again.

- iTunes and my iPod - So much new music. In a year where cinema could not comfort me, it was music that made me come together. Rihanna, Miike Snow, Florence and the Machine, Beyonce, Paloma Faith and so many more kept me strutting all year.

- Costa Rica - Not only because a fellow blogger kept me so amused all year (not to mention flooring me with their review writing) but also because Mikey found love in the form of a Costa Rican (I am blushing) who strangely feels the same for me. Ain't I lucky?

- Sci-Fi' - Finally, science fiction films that I could embrace. 'District 9', 'Star Trek', 'Moon' all made me excited for the genre again. Now I just need to see 'Avatar'.

- Employment - There were some dodgy times and rocky roads, but I was incredibly lucky to hold onto my job, others were not so lucky. I do have 3 guardian angels watching over me.

- 'Glee' - I have never been more proud of loving a guilty pleasure than I have of this show. The singing, the comedy, the unexpected drama (Sue's sister, Kurt's father and Will finally finding out) all made one of the best TV experiences of the year.

- Actresses - This was a year when actresses rocked my world. Toni Collette, Christina Hendricks, Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Meryl Streep, Jane Lynch, Olivia Williams, Drew Barrymoore, Melanie Laurent and so many more.

Who to pick

If I had to pick who I would nominate in the top 8 categories right now, with still an immense list of films to see, I would be hard pressed.

It may look something like this:
Best Picture: District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Los Abrazos Rotos, Precious, Up.

Best Director: Bigelow, Bloomkamp, Daniels, Doctor, Tarantino

Adapted Screenplay: District 9, Coraline, The Hurt Locker, In The Loop, Precious.

Original Screenlay: (500) Days of Summer, Away We Go, Inglourious Basterds, Los Abrazos Rotos, Up

Best Actor: Clooney, Copley, Gordon-Levitt, Renner, Rockwell

Best Actress: Cruz, Ronan, Rudolph, Sibide, Streep.

Best Supporting Actor: Capaldi, Galifianakis, Mackie, Tucci (J&J), Waltz

Best Supporting Actress: Farmiga, Kendrick, Laurent, Mo'Nique, Pike.
A whole lotta 'Precious' love. Sue me!

I fully expect some films to make an impact on that line up. This includes the following:

A Single Man, Amreeka, Avatar, Bright Star, Crazy Heart, Julia, Me and Orson Welles, Nine, The Last Station, The Maid, The Messenger and The Road.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

DGA Nominations

F**k all the people with the obvious hatred for Lee Daniels. The DGA has nominated its first black gay man (or black man period) and a woman in the same year.

Times, they are a changing!

Actress - The Race

Mini Review - 'In The Loop'

Brilliant Ensemble, wonderful script, hysterical. Instead of a typical review, just look at the dialogue:
"Fuckety-bye-bye then!"

"Climbing the mountain of conflict"? You sounded like a Nazi Julie Andrews!"

"You know they're all kids in Washington? It's like Bugsy Malone, but with real guns."

"Oh, great. Meeting my constituents. It's like being Simon Cowell, only without the ability to say, "Fuck off, you're mental".

"Do I look like I've ever set foot in a stationery cupboard? I do all my shagging in five-star hotels!"

"I can't stand to see a woman bleed from the mouth. It reminds me of that Country & Western music which I cannot abide."

"Hey, listen, the war committee. What you have to do is you've got to look for the ten dullest-named committees happening out of the executive branch. Because Linton is not going to call it "The Big Horrible War Committee". He's gonna hide it behind a name like "Diverse Strategy", something so dull you're just gonna want to self-harm."

"Well, I don't want to be accused of micro-managing, but I cannot understand why "I Heart Huckabees" is on a list of DVDs considered suitable for armed-forces entertainment. That self-indulgent crap is not suitable for combat troops."

"I'm wondering where you were in committee, Simon. I called for back-up and you sat there like a dumb sack of shit. Only maybe worse, because, actually, on a molecular level, shit is probably fizzling with energy."
Grade - B+

Mini Reviews - Adolescent issue

'The Lovely Bones'

Peter Jackson was always going to have a very hard time adapting Alice Sebolds wonderful novel. The story of a young girl murdered and watching her family survive in the aftermath (from Purgatory of all places) was always going to be tough to capture on the big screen.

Yet he almost manages to pull it off.

Sure the heaven sequences are a bit day glow, but this is a 14 year old girls idea of what heaven would be, so it is kind of spot on.
Where it stumbles is in the sequences showing the family grieving, investigating and moving on after Susies' (Saoirse Ronan) death.
In the book it was all told from Susies' vantage point, in the film it is a separate entity which takes away from the emotional connection between the two worlds.

The cast varies, with Saoirse Ronan as the stand out. Her performance is what keeps the film going. In her one scene with Stanley Tucci she breaks your heart, you fear for her and pray she is ok even knowing the outcome.
She plays Susie as a 14 year old girl, all gangly and nervous with that pretend bravado that crumbles easily. An astonishingly real performance.
However Stanley Tucci, with all his 'bad guy' styling and ticks never fully grasps Mr Harvey, Susies killer. He acts so suspicious you wonder why he isn't suspect number 1 from the starting point.

A lovely little film that packs an emotional punch, but should have soared.

Grade - B

'Where the Wild Things Are'

Not what I expected, but completely enjoyable. Being a kid is hard, especially being Max. He has tantrums, demands attention and is a bit of a brat. You just want to smack him.
When he runs away from home and ends up in the land of the Wild Things, big menacing creatures he blags his way into becoming their king.

The Wild Things are scary (to kids at least), and they each have very distinctive personalities, echoing Max himself. Carol (a wonderful and vulnerable James Gandolfini) is the temper, and at first the closest aid to Max, while Judith is his negativity and Alexander is his insecurity (or perhaps that is going a little too deep for me).

What makes the film work is it is never fully becomes a children's film, cutesy and easy. It is complex and emotional, after all it is about an extremely selfish little boy who needs to grow up.

The performance of Max Records as Max is outstanding, but the real stars are the combination of exceptional voice work (Lauren Ambrose as the wise KW shines), wonderful costumes and subtle CGI for the facial expressions.
These Wild Things have soul.

Grade - B+

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Actress - The Race

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Actress - The Race

Producers Guild of America weigh in

And here are the nominees.

Producers: James Cameron, Jon Landau

Producers: Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson

Producers: Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey

Producer(s): Awaiting final credit determination.

Producer: Lawrence Bender

Producers: Clint Eastwood, Rob Lorenz, Lori McCreary , Mace Neufeld

Producers: Lee Daniels, Gary Magness, Sarah Siegel-Magness

Producers: J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof

Producer: Jonas Rivera

Producer(s): Awaiting final credit determination.

So happy to see 'District 9' in the mix. Also nice to see six of my current top ten in the mix. It is worth noting the absence of 'Nine', 'The Lovely Bones', 'The Messenger' and 'Fantastic Mr Fox'.

Poll time!

There are still loads of films I have left to see.

Which ones are the most important for me to see?

Vote as much as you can stand

Mini Review – ‘Up in the Air’

What happens when you spend your life living out of a suitcase, being alone and not forming any lasting relationship with anyone? Are you happy realising your lot in life? Or is there an undercurrent of regret that you try to hide.

Jason Reitman explores this and other themes of morals in and out of the work place. George Clooney gives a solid performance as Ryan and man who travels the country being hired by cowardly men to fire their employees. All he wants is to get to 10,000,000 air miles, and a new recruit (a wonderful Anna Kendrick) threatens to ground him forever with a new concept…..firing via web conferencing. Along the way he meets the luminous Farmiga and beings to soften.

Jason Reitman is proving to be a solid director. Here he finds his most accessible film to date, and is help by an good screenplay and cast.
The final third of the film looses a little steam, and although the story is rather predictable you still enjoy the ride.

After watching it my B.F. turns to me and goes “That was the longest American Airlines ad I have ever seen. ”

Grade – B-

Monday, 4 January 2010

Actress - The Race

2010 reporting blues (like an Avatar)

My God this year has taken it out of me. For the first 6 months my personal life was like an early Wes Craven film, then the light started to appear around June 13th. Then I slowly got back into blogging, and now I am all meh.

This has nothing to do with the films as for once I am really passionate about some of the films, however I have done something this year that I have not done in the years before - I read the comments on some of the bigger blogs and Oscar sites. There are some mean spirited people out there and they have basically zapped all the joy I have for the awards race, which is a crying shame.

From the racist and size-ist comments against 'Precious' to the more evil hate campaigns against certain individuals within the awards race.
It made this year in movies have an ugly stink.

So forgive my lack of enthusiasm in this, the year of ugly.

Perhaps my New Years resolution is to be kinder myself. We all have those people in the business we hate, but perhaps I should practice what I preach and be kinder in my criticism.

Change begins at home.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Actress - The Race