March 2010 - Posts
The Hollywood Stock Exchange is going to allow you to make or lose real money by trading film futures. I played around on the site a couple years ago and lost too much fake money to even think about participating in this new incarnation.
I've watched this trailer three times now (which is usually a good sign). There's a strong Speed Racer (Wachowski, not Saturday morning) vibe mixed in with some Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat and a dash of 60's Batman. It totally has the look and feel of a comic book - which it happens to be based on
. Hopefully Michael Cera can sell the action scenes.
Check it out
At the Movies
, formerly known as At the Movies with Ebert and Roepe
r, also formerly known as Siskel and Ebert and The Movies
, is coming to an end after 24 seasons. For the details, read
Roger Ebert's blog post
"Two Thumbs Up" was the gold standard when I was growing up in the 80's and 90's. Rotten Tomatoes
has taken it's place to a certain extent, but it just isn't the same, nor does it fill me with the same confidence. Maybe it was the innocence of youth mixed in with my complete lack of film knowledge, but when I saw those two thumbs up, I knew I wasn't wasting my time.
My hats off Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, Richard Roeper, Michael Phillips and A. O. Scott for setting a high standard when it comes to reviewing films. Until next time, the balcony is closed.
While reading Chuck Klosterman, you're immersed in the
analysis of pop cultural events, usually ones that are near and dear to
Generation X. His views on the films Reality Bites (Ben Stiller) and Singles
(Cameron Crowe), and his preference for the former, come to a head in a discussion with Bill Simmons of ESPN. Below are portions of their dialogue.
The Matt Dillon character in “Singles” and the Ethan Hawke
character in “Reality Bites” are — as one-dimensional caricatures — the same
person. It’s just that in “Singles,” that persona is painted as pathetic and
stupid; in “Reality Bites,” it’s expressed as brilliant but troubled. This is why “Singles” is not — in any context — a youth
movie. It’s about old people (one of whom is a city planner!) who just happen
to listen to Soundgarden.
You’re too caught up in the age thing. “Singles” was about
people in their mid-20s trying to fall in love; “Reality Bites” was about
people in their early-20s trying to figure out life after college. You just
appreciate the second premise more than the first one; and if that’s the case,
you should be championing “Kicking and Screaming” instead — better movie,
better acting, infinitely more realistic, although no Winona.
I have seen Reality Bites a couple times, yet had never seen
Singles - although its DVD cover has been spotted in discount bins for years. I finally watched it recently late one night with my wife (we have a 9 week
old keeping us up), hoping to find interesting comparisons and further enlightenment concerning an era of pop culture that I was too young (Class of '98) to experience as it happened.
My conclusion is that I agree with...
both quotes above. It is a little hard to compare them because although from a similar time period, they concern themselves with different transitions in life. So on this point, they are actually agreeing.
Both films deal in cliches, but Singles feels laden with them due to being more plot-driven rather than character-driven. Picking out the Seatle grunge acts was indeed fun, and the soundtrack is superior, as Simmons points out elsewhere. The Jeremy
Piven cameo is funny. But ultimately making a Woody Allen movie in Seattle populated by unlikely grunge rock fans was a bad idea. And I totally agree that Hawke is the slacker to aspire to, while
Dillon is the one to disdain. The interesting thing is, (SPOILER) they
both get the girl in the end.
What are other quintessential Gen X movies? What do you think, regardless of era, are the best coming of age movies? Chime in, people!
Three months after he died in jail, brothers Noah and Logan Miller convinced Ed Harris to play the role of their father in the movie they were going to make. He said, "yes." Without any filmmaking experience they wrote, directed, produced and starred in a film that involves a cast and crew with 11 Academy Awards. Pretty amazing story.
And Robert Forster, one of my favorites who should've won Best Supporting Actor for Jackie Brown, is in the film also.
I'll always remember him as Captain Oveur in Airplane!
"Joey, have you ever been in a... in a Turkish prison?"
A tribute in the form of a fake Criterion Collection cover of my favorite Haim film, Dream a Little Dream. Jason Robards and Harry Dean Stanton are also in this classic by Marc Rocco, son of the guy that played Moe Green.
These figures will be available in July, just in time for the season four premiere. There will be four characters available: Don Draper, Betty Draper, Roger Sterling and Joan Holloway, for $74.95 a pop (too rich for my blood.) It's a shame they're not making more. I'd love to see a Pete Campbell with rifle and chip-and-dip accessories. Speaking of accessories, these Mad Men dolls will not feature cigarettes or alcohol of any kind. Has anyone at Mattel even bothered to watch the show? They're clearly not targeting children with these toys, so why not include legit accessories?
Here's a quick rundown of the big winners.
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
I have to agree it was my favorite film of the year. High tension character drama, well performed and kept me on the edge of my seat. Avatar, while an excellent film, wasn't as deserving.
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow
The first woman to receive the best director award. Well deserved indeed.
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges
While I have yet to see his performance in Crazy Heart, I can't help but feel this is a lifetime achievement award for Bridges, who is an amazing actor and definitely should have won for his performance as "the Dude," even though he was not nominated.
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock
A.K.A. the poor man's Julia Roberts. I haven't seen the Blind Side either, but I can't imagine any Bullock performance that could top Meryl Streep. Her acceptance speech seemed long (twitter joke: @apelad: "She has to keep thanking people or this bus will explode!").
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz
The Jew Hunter from Inglourious Basterds. What a wonderful performance, which really tied the film together. He was my one sure bet on the Oscars.
Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique
I have not seen Precious, and I'm not in a big rush to do so.
Best Animated Film: Up
Easily my second or third favorite film of 2009. Glad to see it got some love.
I don't know how they did it, but they managed to make the ceremony feel longer than ever. Most of the jokes fell flat on their face, like Ben Stiller coming out as a Navi from Avatar. The hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, were extremely under-utilized throughout, and had a long and very unfunny opener that felt more like a two person stand-up routine that was bombing. I think the writers are to blame.
They also did a tribute to horror films for no other reason except to say no one makes good ones anymore (twitter joke: @BastardMachine: "The only thing left out of that horror montage was NBC's fall schedule." Zing!).
The one thing they almost got right was the tributes. First, they did a solo tribute to John Hughes, who died of a heart attack last year. His family was in attendance, as were former "children" of Hughes, such as Matthew Broderick, Molly Ringwald and Macaulay Culkin, who shared their memories of the man. Later, they did the full "In Memoriam" while James Taylor played "In My Life" live on stage. It was very nice tribute, except that they forgot Farrah Fawcett. I know she was more of a TV personality, but come on - they remembered Michael Jackson, who, unless you count Thriller, was never in a film.
The most annoying part of the evening came just before they announced Best Actor/Actress. They brought out five other actors, each of whom had co-starred with one of the nominees, and had them gush about how much fun it was to work with them and how much respect they have for them as artists. Really? Seriously? In a crammed ceremony that only gives 15 seconds to highlight technical awards and cuts off every other "minor" award winner who talks too long, we're going to spend all this extra time stroking the egos of the most over-celebrated people in the world?
In its continuing effort to clean up the Jay Leno spill on aisle 10, NBC has another new show - The Marriage Ref.
Because it's produced by Jerry Seinfeld, I decided it was worth a viewing or two. After the second episode I have mixed feelings. The premise has promise: married couples fight, Host Tom Papa and three celebrity panelists review the fight, and a winner is declared. Simple enough. But to fill the entire hour they've taken what could be a nice thirty minute show and crammed it with side gags that fall flat. For example, they have Natalie Morales from the Today show sitting on the sidelines with a computer feeding us fun facts about the topic at hand, and sports commentator Marv Albert doing over the top play by play recaps. They even had David Blaine sitting in a glass box. COME ON! That joke was so bad I don't even remember why he was in the box. Keep it simple and don't waste my time.
But looking past the gags, I actually had a few laughs. I enjoy watching couples I don't know argue. It's fun, and it helps me put my own spousal arguments into perspective. The biggest laughs of the night came from the panelists, Jerry Seinfeld and Tina Fey. Eva Longoria was there as well, but didn't add much to the proceedings. I think this reveals a possible pitfall - the panelist make or break the show. What happens when you can't get off-the-cuff pros like Seinfeld and Fey to provide the funny? You can't just bring in Tony Danza and pray for the best. You need seasoned comedic professionals.
This leads me to believe the show has a secret two-thirds rule: two of the three panelist are guaranteed funny, and one is a potential dud. Next week's panel, for example, includes Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office and Extras, and Madonna, who has only made me laugh with
her arms. But I'll be back next week, if only to see David and Gervais. The week after that? We'll just have to wait and see.
Saw the trailer for Bright Star a while back, and it looked like something my wife and I might both enjoy. One of the places our movie interests intersect is at the corner of "Literary Romance" and "Brilliant Director" (Sense and Sensibility, Howard's End, The Age of Innocence, Pride and Prejudice). We finally rented it on DVD last weekend.
The story is of Fanny Brawne's (Abbie Cornish) relationship with the 19th century poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) during the time they both lived at Wentworth Place. The movie covers the last three years of his life, as he died at age 26. The atmosphere created for the film is astonishingly beautiful. Director Jane Campion translates 19th century Romanticism to film to a dazzling yet understated effect. The details of every scene are extraordinary. Cornish shines in her performance. Paul Schneider (from the popular TV comedy, Parks and Recreation) also turns in a great performance, adding humor as Keats' protective friend Charles Brown. All in all it is a good but not great film. Honestly it gets a bit stagnet at times, especially in the latter half, but overall the visual flourishes and understated charm make it worthwhile.
In the wake of Jay Leno's mass exodus from 10 p.m., NBC premiered the new show
Parenthood last night, and I'm sorry to say it was anything but a treat to watch. The ensemble is way too big, they introduced characters far too quickly (so quickly, the only name I can remember is Jabbar) and so far, they're all one-note characters. I really tried to like it. I've always been a fan of Peter Krause, and I'm getting really sick of his shows getting canned. It's also great to see Craig T. Nelson back as a regular on the small screen. It even has Mae Whitman from
Arrested Development, Monica Potter from
Boston Legal and Dax Shepard from
Idiocracy, but it still wasn't enough.
So what's the big deal right? It was the first episode, so of course they had to rush things a little. Sure characters take time to develop. But here's the problem: I'VE SEEN ALL THESE CHARACTERS BEFORE. They were in this great little movie called
Parenthood. I knew going into it the show was based on the film, but they could have informed me that it WAS the film. Every single character and plot point from the film is transferred, reordered, renamed and done with an actor ten years younger. Is this all the writers have to offer? a complete and utter rehash? Don't get me wrong, I anticipated some characters and stories to be similar, but to recreate the film note for note does not a TV show make.
But my blog cohort, Matt Miller, makes an excellent point. He says the Office started the same way, taking the first episode of the BBC original and mirroring it for American audiences. The situation is a little different, but apt. So can Parenthood break away from the film or will it stick to tired storylines? Time will tell.
So be sure to tune in next week to watch Peter Krause use a bathmat to finish his cowboy costume. I, on the other hand, will likely be going to bed early, dreaming of Wednesday when I can watch Modern Family.
In which Matt and I talk about
Shaun of the Dead
and our thoughts on the zombie genre.
Listen to the discussion