Archive for the ‘ film ’ Category

Martin Mull and Catherine O’Hara were in ABBA

The proof:

Have you ever seen them all in the same place? Please let me know.

Movie Stuff

Well, here we are. The season for good films has come and gone already. The Oscars are on Sunday, and although I’m excited, I can’t say what I’m excited for exactly. Hardly any films really captured me this year. But here’s a few that did.

The Visitor

As I already blogged, I thought this movie was amazing. I literally yelped with glee when I found out he was nominated — I wanted him to be recognized so badly. What a beautiful, subtle, and understated performance that too few big name actors could give. I watched it with my mom, and she called it the best movie she’s seen in a long time. I found a few holes in the plot upon my second watching, but I can look past that for such an original script.

Man on Wire

If it hadn’t actually happened, I’d never believe it. Whenever I stumble a little or lose my balance a bit, I think of Philippe Petit on the wire between the Twin Towers. How could he do it? It’s a glorious story with great meaning for so many reasons. Philippe Petit is absolutely crazy, but I’m thankful for his craziness.

John Adams

Though not a theatatrically realeased film, it’s the one that affected me the most. It’s astoundingly accurate, and Paul Giamati has won my respect once again for his brilliant performance. I hope he gets more roles like this…it reminded me of how good he was in American Splendor.

The Dark Knight

I actually forgot how much I enjoyed it at the time. It hasn’t held up for me mentally like the other three films above. I’m not a superhero girl at all, but this one and Batman Begins were really fantastic portrayals of that genre. I don’t think it should have been nominated for best picture, and I think any argument for such is pretty lame. It’s a great movie played by excellent actors, but it’s still basically an action/adventure film with more emotion than the average action/adventure film.

I’ve seen all but one of the best picture nominees, Frost/Nixon, though I plan to see it tomorrow. I’ve seen almost all the other acting nominees, except Doubt, The Wrestler, Frozen River, and Rachel Getting Married.

I assume the highly overrated Slumdog Millionaire will win it all. If the film hadn’t included the far-fetched love story, I would have liked it better. I also feel like it’s become the token foreign film for a lot of people.

Here’s the rest of my Oscar picks/wants.

Best Picture:

Pick – Slumdog Millionaire

Want – I really don’t care, but I guess Milk right now

Leading Actor:

Pick – Sean Penn. Sorry Mickey, but I think your “welcome back” was the Golden Globe

Want – Sean Penn or Richard Jenkins, but he obviously won’t get it

Leading Actress:

Pick – Anne Hathaway or Melissa Leo. I fully expect a surprise in this category since nobody wants to choose between Meryl and Kate

Want – I can’t say cuz I’ve only seen  The Reader, and I don’t think Kate deserves it

Screenplay, Original:

Original screenplays are always an important thing I look at. I’m a real critic of dialog, which is funny considering that my pick has hardly any.

Pick – Wall-e

Want – Wall-e, though I can’t say for sure since the only other one I’ve seen is Milk, which I don’t think should be in this category. Wall-e wasn’t perfect, but it was very original.

What are you picks? Who got snubbed?

An extraordinary film

I saw one of the finest films I’ve seen this year, if not the best. A friend wanted to go, and I went with, not knowing much about it.

It’s “The Visitor“, and I suggest everyone to run out and see it. I’m saying this not because it could be a sleeper hit like “Juno” or “Once” last year or ev

en an Oscar contender, but because it is an amazing story told in an elegant way by fantastic actors.

It’s hard to tell who is visiting who. The story begins with a lonely widower professor (you’ll know him as the dead dad from “Six Feet Under”), bored with life and missing his wife. He’s forced to go to New York (he lives and Conneicut) for a conference, where he temporarily moves back into an apartment he’s kept there (and probably hasn’t visited since his wife died). Much to his surprise, a young mixed-nationality couple has moved in based on their friend Ivan’s say-so.

visitor.jpg

The professor allows the couple to stay at the apartment anyway. The young man plays an ethnic drum of some kind (please excuse my ignorance), and the professor gets into it (he’s already failed piano lessons). The men become fast friends. From there, the story takes two very interesting twists that seem so natural are dealt with so seamlessly, you hardly notice they are twists. It simply feels real.

I won’t give away any more except to say that along with a great story, this is also one of the great New York movies I’ve seen. It really shows New York in all its (sometimes shitty) glory. The subway, the street musicians, the gross delis, the ugly coffee shops, and most importantly, the diversity. It’s the New York I’ve visited, and I’ve never really seen it shown correctly in a film before. Perhaps “Annie Hall” showed it honestly as it was in the mid-70s, but I wouldn’t really know.

So, go see “The Visitor” — 9/10 stars!

It’s official

I finished reading Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography late last week, and I am now officially obsessed. After I was done, I missed reading it before bed. Luckily I had queued up a bunch of his films on Netflix. I watched “City Lights” early on Sunday and basically never stopped watching or reading Chaplin-related stuff the whole day (turns out there’s tons of obsessed fans who create YouTube mashups or compilations. Today has felt incomplete without being inundated with the Tramp.

One of the YouTube compilation vids featured what appeared to be Chaplin in drag. The author kindly sent me all her pics of Charlie dressed in high flapper gear. Here’s a couple.

close-up

with a suitor

I think the biggest reason (beyond his pure genius) I love him is because of his politics. The fact that he was driven from America shortly after he began his talking pictures proved what a powerful political voice he could have become. In some ways I feel like he was born slightly too early. That if he’d been born 10 or 20 years later, he could have been the old guy amongst the hippies chanting for peace. But he certainly wouldn’t have the comic talent he had if he was born later. He was very old-fashioned, and lagged behind the times in Hollywood in many ways. He was more innovative in his politics and comedy than in his directing films.

He reminds me a lot of John Lennon. Both are English, spent much of their adult lives in America, slept around and didn’t really settle down until late in life, followed by the FBI because of their strong leftist leanings, led their field in terms of talent and popularity, and made daring art for their time.

For the record

  1. I “lost” or “failed” the National Novel Writing Month. Or, at least, that’s how the hardcore NaNoWriMos would put it. I wrote over 13,000 words in about ten writing sessions throughout November. That’s 13,000 more words of fiction than I’ve written in seven years, so, I feel pretty good about it. I may or may not go back to my story. I have a feeling that editing it will lead to me basically rewriting it since I was going in directions and describing stuff I never would have written if it not for that pesky word count. But the whole thing has definitely renewed my interest in writing.
  2. Lars and the Real Girl” isn’t all that great. It’s not that I found the whole town befriending his non-sexual girlfriend doll unbelievable. What I found unbelievable was the well-to-do African-American family in this Wisconsin small town. I’ve been to many Wisconsin small towns, and grew up in one. I can honestly say that what few African-American families live in those kinds of towns are not that affluent. It reeks of tokenism, and it’s not even used very well. The director or writer could have connected the outsiders: the black family and the dude dating a doll. But that didn’t happen. And I felt like cutie Ryan Gosling was over-acting, though my thespian friend accompanying me wasn’t so sure.
  3. Snow storms on nights when you’re supposed to go play Rock Band SUCK.

Evangelizing

I saw two amazing films over the Thanksgiving weekend. One had zero music and moved incredibly slowly. The other was full of some of the finest songs of the twentieth century and buzzed like MTV.

The first was “No Country for Old Men“, which literally haunted me for the proceeding 24 hours. The Cohen brothers have done it again, “Fargo” style, only more violent and less funny. The similarities to “Fargo” are obvious: unassuming cop doing his/her job, ordinary people put in extraordinary circumstances due to getting mixed up in illegal activities, and barren landscapes showcased by marvelous cinematography. Javier Bardem’s calmness transfers to the audience, and the lack of music used as queues make it realistic, yet even creepier. The only real issues I had with it were some consistency things with the time period. Like the peanuts packages at the gas station — those were modern peanut packages while everything else in the store was clearly vintage. Still, if a finer specimim of Film will be released this year, I would be highly surprised.

The other movie I saw was “I’m Not There“, you know, the Dylan movie (as I so often have had to indicate). Two words: CATE BLANCHETT. Seriously. I mean, my God that woman can act. She was the only thing that saved “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” from going all green with patina after twenty minutes, and here she completely steals the show. I wish there was a director’s cut with only her bits spanning over two hours. The film is a wonderful representation of Dylan as a developing performer basically through the late ’70s when he was born again (though it skips about 10 years). Nothing means anything and everything means something. The fact that six actors play Dylan in different times, and with different names even, is a brilliant concept. Bob Dylan isn’t even his own name, so what difference does it make what we call him? He made up his life history, tried to hide that he was a Jew from northern Minnesota, so why can’t we make a black kid symbolize his journey to New York? Isn’t that what Dylan would want? It could have been a disaster, but Todd Haynes did a fantastic job.

However, I do have some problems with the movie. I posted it on the IMDB forum, but I’ll post it again here just for fun, under the cut.

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