Monday, January 31, 2011

Now Playing: 127 Hours

Okay, back to Oscars: clicking of the last movie that's in theatres, 127 Hours had me at James Franco.  Seriously, is there anything this guy can't do?

Anyway, back to the movie.  I'm a little leery of flicks that force the lead actor to act by him/herself for most of the film (I always think of Castaway) - the chances of things going really well or really badly are separated by the slimmest of margins.  Franco nailed it.  And clever Danny Boyle directed the film in a way that tricks viewers in thinking they're watching different characters, when really they're not.  that in itself is quite an accomplishment for both Boyle and Franco.  (I really loved the talk show hallucination).  I don't know if I can give this "Best Movie" but I think Franco has a real shot at Best Actor here, giving Jesse Eisenberg a run for his money; sadly, we all know what's going to happen "coughcolinfirthcough*

The movie was gripping, intense, gross and incredibly touching: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Now Playing: The Green Hornet

I'm not sure I even want to give The Green Hornet a full review.  Aside from the awesome Jay Chou, and a great cameo by James Franco (totally stole the scene, hard to do opposite Christoph Waltz) this movie is pretty, well, boring.  I can't imagine it becoming a franchise (again).  Then again, look at Transformers.  I guess for completion's sake, I have to review it here: rent it, if you're really bored; but with all the amazing choices out there right now, this one will have a hard time catching anyone's attention.  3 out of 5 stars.

Honestly though, the Oscar list this year is so much more worthy of your time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 oscar noms

Given the sheer amount of movies I watch, it would be remiss of me to allow the nominations for Oscar's 83rd cine-gala to go by without mention.  Sadly, I haven't watched nearly as many as I would have liked; I will take solace that the many I missed were fairly late releases.  So, without further ado, the nominations (links take you to my original review, if I've watched it)):

Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech
James Franco in “127 Hours”
...3/5 isn't bad and I had planned to see the other two anyway.  Given what I know, I hope Eisenberg takes it.  His portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg was bang-on and I was able to both love and hate him, which are my exact feeling towards Zuckerberg as well.  Reality Check: Colin Firth will probably take it.  He's done an Oscar movie and I don't know what Hollywood's obsession with royalty is (perhaps overcompensating for a lack of their own?) but they love to reward movies with crowns.  Personally, I thought it was highly over-rated.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in “The Fighter
John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech
... Again, 3/5.  And I've never heard of Winter's Bone (which, in and of itself, means nothing as it sounds very Oscar-ish).  Bale should have this one in the bag, though.  He was amazing in his role.

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”
...*wince*.  Okay, clearly I cannot even talk about the nominations as, by sheer elimination, I can only cast one vote.  I would like to comment on the judges deciding to not place True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld in this category, opting for supporting instead.  I call foul!  That young lady was in basically every frame of True Grit, held her own against some of the most decorated actors of our times and blew me away with her delivery.  Had she been in this category, I think she would have even beat out Ms. Portman for my vote.  Alas.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in “The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”
...I think Steinfeld should win it.  She was awesome.  She has tough competition in Melissa Leo (who will probably end up with the statuette) and Bonham Carter.

Black Swan - Darren Aronofsky
The Fighter - David O. Russell
The King's Speech - Tom Hooper
The Social Network - David Fincher
True Grit - Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
...Yet another omission I don't understand.  I watched all these movies and liked them for the most part, but really?  No Christopher Nolan for Inception?  If nothing else, that movie would be hard to direct, with its multiple parallel storylines and time-spaces.  Personally, I'd have dropped King's Speech (which wasn't anything special for directing... I mean, it was played pretty straight).  Of what's left, I hope Black Swan wins it - it was a nice piece of directing.

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
...really?  Toy Story 3?  I haven't watched it, but the three-quel of a Disney flick?  Anyway... tough category.  For sheer enjoyment, I wish Inception would win, but if you don't even acknowledge the director, this really doesn't have a shot.  King's Speech, again, is an Oscar movie, but it was a snore-fest in comparison to these others.  True Grit?  Probably not, as Jeff Bridges' muttering made it hard to connect with the audience.  I am torn between Social Network and Black Swan.  Both were amazing character portrayals; both set the right tone for their respective movies and really engaged their audiences; both had tight, well-paced directing.  A coin toss for me, and I'd be happy with either.  Sadly, though, I see disappointment for both.

For a full list of nominations, go here.  I fully intend to watch in either a ballgown or my fanciest pyjamas.  I may even get cable just for the event.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Now Playing: The King's Speech

The King’s Speech was the last movie I’d felt desperate to watch before the GG’s were on (of which I subsequently missed the first hour and am disappointed only due to missing Mr. Gervais’ opening monologue). I was looking forward to it, as I do enjoy a good British movie.

Sadly, I was a bit disappointed. I mean, everything was okay, but nothing spectacular. Acting was good, directing was good. I did disagree with whatever treatment they gave to the film, which made it feel grimy. Yes, very WWII-esque, but really unnecessary. And, though it is a historical movie, it was so predictable. I don’t feel like I've learned anything useful at all. There were moments where I was so bored, I was falling asleep! 

All in all, over-rated. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Now Playing: Black Swan

Well, I didn't really know what to expect of Black Swan.  I barely knew anything about it (except, of course, about the "hot lesbian sex scene between Natalie and Mila" ... it's hard not to know about that when you hang out with boys).  So, let's get that out of the way: yes, there is a lesbian sex scene; yes, it is hot; no, it is not the only reason to watch this movie.

Who wrote this thing?  Because that's the best part!  I love when we take classics and update them; I especially love when those same classics then enjoy a resurgence because of it.  How else would you get boys interested in Swan Lake and ballet?  I thought the costuming and directing were really tight too.  I really really liked the feathers bit (you'll know it when you see it) and how cringe-worthy this movie about a delicate art form really is.  Finally, what is up with all the horror elements?  It totally caught me off-guard in a very good way.

I enjoyed this movie immensely.  I liked the acting, the directing, the script and the costumes.  It was thoroughly entertaining.  4.5 out of 5 stars.

Now Playing: True Grit

A Coen brothers' remake of the 1969 classic, True Grit has a lot going for it. Not a bIg fan of Westerns and knowing full well the love/hate relationship I have with the Coens, I went into True Grit with some trepidation.  It was needless.  Yes, Jeff Bridges was awesome.  Yes, it was well-paced and pretty much perfectly directed for a Western.  And no, there wasn’t enough of Josh Brolin in it.  You know what really sold me?  A little lady named Hailee Steinfeld.  Sweet baby jesus, that girl is amazing!  She needs to be nominated for Best Actress  and I think she may actually be a contender to walk away with it!  Seriously – she’s that good.

I don’t really know what else to say other than it was completely worth watching.  Especially if you have a non-movie man in your life (I’m thinking of my dad).  It was solid.  4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

ringing in 2011

Things I learned during the wee infant hours of 2011:

1) Laotian Bucket Drinks: renamed the Fuck-It Bucket, this ingenious idea requires the following items
- one dollar-store toy bucket, the kind you used to use in the sandbox
- one mickey of your favourite whiskey
- one can of Red Bull
- a splash of coke for taste
- enough ice to fill what's left of the bucket
- plenty of straws
...Apparently, in Laos, these cost $2.50 USD.  Worth every penny.  As Mike said, before you realise it, you're about 25 shots in!  Also: delicious!  So, whenever someone lamented something from 2010, there was a general chorus of "fuck it!  drink from the bucket!"  Good times.

2) The worth of one's pyjamas is directly correlated with how close you are to them.  Case in point: we had a 45-minute walk home that night, in balmy 9-degree weather (Celsius, for my American friends) and two conversations occured.

a) glass v. rock
Me: I think I have a piece of glass in my boot
Nish: Are you sure it's not a pebble or something?
Me: No, it's sharp-ish, like glass.
Nish.  Well, if it's glass, we'd better stop; if it's a rock, suck it up.
Me: Nah, i'll just wiggle it to a place where it doesn't hurt.

b) feet v cab
Me: (after forty minutes of walking) That's it, I'm done.
Nish: what?
Me: I'm done.  This walking thing has lost its novelty.  If we see a cab now, we should just take it.
Nish: We're, like, ten minutes from home.
Me: yes, but in one minute we could in our jammies...
Nish:...*hails cab*

3) No resolutions this year.  As Jadek says, they set us up for failure.  Life changes will be made, including less junk food, more dancing and even more reading.

All the best in 2011, poppets!