Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jamie Foxx > Terrence Howard

I don't like Jamie Foxx or Terrence Howard, I think everybody here knows that, but today Jamie Foxx officially bumped up in my rankings of "Actors I Would Most Like to See NEVER AGAIN" list. Stale Popcorn reader Joshua sent me this clip of Foxx appearing on a radio program discussing Howard and it's very funny. His impersonation is spot on the bit about a zoot suit is hilarious.

Next time Jamie Foxx would like to work with Micheael Mann (after Collateral and Miami Vice) I will be there with strategically placed bells on, alas I don't think I'll be able to stomach The Soloist (Joe Wright or no Joe Wright) and we're back to square one.

This Week on Australian Screens

Cinema Releases for the Week 01/01/09

Bolt - This animated Disney flick sure looks better than that god awful-looking Tales of Despereaux, which is out next week. Yikes.

Marley & Me - I kind of actually want to see this movie. Does that make me a bad person? It's gotten some good write-ups for a mainstream movie of this kind and, through it all, I am still an Aniston fan.

Yes Man - Jim Carrey not in a Liar Liar sequel.

DVD Releases for the Week

Baby Mama - Back when it was released theatrically I said "it [strikes] me as the perfect DVD movie." And voila, here we are.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Hmmm, nope. Still not interested.

Make it Happen - Have I mentioned by penchant for dance movies? Oh yes I have!

Pineapple Express - When I saw the trailers and ads for this movie earlier in the year I really wanted to see it, mainly for James Franco who I knew was going to be excellent. I missed it, unfortunately, but now Franco has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. Yay! I'm excited for him even though I haven't seen it. Soon enough though, my pretties, soon enough.

TV Screenings for the Week 01/01/09

01/01/09, The Great Escape (1963), C7, 12.00PM - Is it odd that I don't care much for this movie? Because I don't. Hmmm.

01/01/09, Dead Man (1995), SBS, 11.50PM - I've always been wary of this movie for some reason. I see it a lot on DVD shelves and can just never pick it up. Maybe now's the time to sit down and watch it? Stars Johnny Depp and features the final performance by Robert Mitchum.

02/01/09, Liquid Bridge (2003), C9, 12.00AM - I'm sure Ryan Kwantan would like this stricken from his resume now that he has a hit TV series in the US (True Blood).

03/01/09, Bearcub (2004), SBS, 12.50AM - Spanish queer flick that is quite well liked.

03/01/09, Hysterical Blindness (2002), C9, 1.45AM - Despite starring Uma Thurman (who won a Golden Globe) and Juliette Lewis I have never seen this movie. Why, exactly?

03/01/09, Junebug (2005), SBS, 10.10PM - You liked that Amy Adams gal from Enchanted? Why not try Junebug, for which she was Oscar nominated and very excellent. Yes.

05/01/09, Capturing the Friedmans (2003), ABC1, 9.30PM - I wanted to see this documentary years ago when it was nominated for an Oscar, but I never got around to it and had forgotten all about it. Hopefully I can catch it now.

06/01/09, Punch-Drunk Love (2002), C9, 10.50PM - I never have seen this Paul Thomas Anderson film starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. It never piqued my interest, but maybe I'll give it a try.

07/01/09, The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), ABC1, 11.55PM - B-Movie goodness!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best Singles of 2008

I originally planned to make my annual list of the best singles of the year a 75 affair. Cap it off before I start to get into the "iffy" singles - the ones I like but are there merely because they can be, which is what I experienced last year. And yet I went to do the list this year and lo and behold I just kept adding song after song and realising I love them all (some, perhaps, against my better judgement) and it dawned on me that 2008 was a pretty darn decent year as these things go.

So, today, on the final day of the year I present to you the 125 best singles that were released in 2008. Now I indeed list SINGLES - unlike, say, Adem with an E who lists anything and everything, a frightening prospect to maneuver through - so you will find songs that appeared on 2007 albums, but were only released this year. And that's also why some of the very best songs I heard this year aren't on there. Lily Allen's "Everyone's At It" was all set to be #1 until she switched lead singles and now she has to settle for a mere #35 listing. sadface. Goldfrapp, too, would be gunning for the number one spot if they released "Little Bird". Alas, they did not, which is a damn shame.

It still baffles me to this very day why The Veronicas never got around to releasing "Someone Wake Me". Absolutely baffled! I did cheat on the list but once and that is with single no. 6. It could have easily been the top place getter, but the album it comes off is hanging in distribution limbo and may not even see the light of an iTunes store so I threw it in there as a sign of solidarity for my absolute favourite Norwegian popette. How her album has been all but dumped by the studio is a crime against humanity. Israeli attacks against Palestine? pfft. Island Records not releasing Annie's Don't Stop? WHERE ARE THE UNITED NATIONS NOW?!

125. Annie - "I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me"
124. Chicane vs Natasha Bedingfield - "Bruised Water"
123. Brandy - "Long Distance"
122. Ladyhawke feat. Pascal Gabriel - "Dusk Til Dawn"
121. Adele - "Cold Shoulder"
120. Pussycat Dolls - "When I Grow Up"
119. Crystal Waters vs Speakerbox - "Dancefloor"
118. Cyndi Lauper - "Same Ol' Story"
117. Little Jackie - "The Whole World Should Revolve Around Me"
116. Solange - "Sandcastle Disco"
115. Moby - "Disco Lies"
114. Alicia Keys - "Superwoman"
113. Take That - "Greatest Day"
112. Kanye West - "Love Lockdown"
111. Alesha Dixon - "The Boy Does Nothing"
110. Iglu & Hartley - "In This City"
109. Shontelle - "T-Shirt"
108. Sugababes - "No Can Do"
107. Gabriella Cilmi - "Save the Lies"
106. Jordin Sparks - "Tattoo"
105. Justice - "Planisphère" [parts 1, 2 & 3]
104. Ricki-Lee - "Wiggle It"
103. Jesse McCartney - "Leavin'"
102. Keri Hilson - "Energy"
101. Jessica Mauboy - "Burn"
100. Seany B feat. Amy Pearson - "B Good 2 Me"
99. Mr G - "Naughty Girl"
98. Coldplay - "Viva la Vida"
97. Michelle Williams - "Hello Heartbreak"
96. Sam Sparro - "21st Century Life"
95. Cut Copy - "Hearts on Fire"
94. Britney Spears - "Womanizer"
93. Black Kids - "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You"
92. Scarlett Johansson - "Falling Down"
91. Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland - "4 Minutes"
90. Does It Offend You, Yeah? - "Dawn of the Dead"
89. The Hives & Cyndi Lauper - "A Christmas Duel"
88. Sugababes - "Denial"
87. Kleerup feat. Marit Bergman - "3AM"
86. NaS feat. Chris Brown & The Game - "Make the World Go 'Round"
85. Jennifer Hudson, "Spotlight"
84. Alphabeat - "Boyfriend [Pete Hammond Mix]"
83. Donna Summer - "Stamp Your Feet"
82. Delta Goodrem - "You Will Only Break My Heart"
81. Jennifer Hudson - "All Dressed in Love"
80. Lykke Li - "I'm Good, I'm Gone"
79. Janet Jackson - "Rock With U"
78. Pussycat Dolls - "I Hate This Part"
77. Lindsay Lohan - "Bossy"
76. Nadia Oh - "Got Your Number"
75. Rihanna - "Rehab"
74. Madonna - "Miles Away"
73. The Last Shadow Puppets - "The Age of the Understatement"
72. Leona Lewis - "Forgive Me"
71. Ladyhawke - "My Delirium"
70. Brandy - "Right Here (Departed)"
69. Infernal - "Downtown Boys"
68. Estelle feat. Kanye West - "American Boy"
67. Santogold - "Creator"
66. Grace Jones - "Williams' Blood"
65. Coldplay - "Lost!"
64. Beyoncé - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"
63. MGMT - "Electric Feel"
62. Lady GaGa - "Poker Face"
61. Lisa Mitchell - "Neopolitan Dreams"
60. Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris feat. Chrome - "Dance Wiv Me"
59. Cassie - "Is It You"
58. Sugababes - "Girls"
57. Girls Aloud - "The Promise"
56. Cut Copy - "Lights & Music"
55. Justice - "DVNO"
54. Jessica Mauboy feat. Flo Rida - "Running Back"
53. The Presets - "Talk Like That"
52. Britney Spears - "Piece of Me"
51. Kylie Minogue - "Wow"
50. Hercules & Love Affair - "You Belong"
49. Cut Copy - "So Haunted"
48. Sneaky Sound System - "Kansas City"
47. Yo Majesty - "Booty Klap"
46. Duffy - "Warwick Avenue"
45. Uh Huh Her - "Not a Love Song"
44. Sneaky Sound System - "When We Were Young"
43. Sam Sparro - "Black & Gold"
42. Miley Cyrus - "See You Again"
41. Cyndi Lauper - "Into the Nightlife"
40. Ashlee Simpson - "Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)"
39. Justice - "Stress"
38. Leona Lewis - "Better in Time"
37. Jordin Sparks feat. Chris Brown - "No Air"
36. Lady GaGa feat. Colby O'Donis - "Just Dance"
35. Lily Allen - "The Fear"
34. Mariah Carey - "I'll be Loving You Long Time"
33. Ne-Yo - "Closer"
32. Rihanna - "Disturbia"
31. Grace Jones - "Corporate Cannibal"
30. Wyclef Jean feat. Akon, Lil Wayne & Niia - "Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)"
29. Coldplay - "Violet Hill"
28. The Veronicas - "Take Me On the Floor"
27. Empire of the Sun - "Walking on a Dream"
26. Ladyhawke - "Back of the Van"
25. Gabriella Cilmi - "Don't Want to Go to Bed Now"
24. Ladyhawke - "Paris is Burning"
23. Madonna - "Give It 2 Me"
22. Goldfrapp - "Caravan Girl"
21. Pink - "So What"
20. Santogold - "L.E.S. Artistes"
19. M.I.A. - "Paper Planes"
18. Kylie Minogue - "In My Arms"
17. Bruce Springsteen - "Girls in Their Summer Clothes"
16. NaS feat. Keri Hilson - "Hero"
15. MGMT - "Kids"
14. Delta Goodrem - "I Can't Break It to My Heart"
13. Hercules & Love Affair - "Blind"
12. The Presets - "My People"
11. Goldfrapp - "A&E"
10. Kelly Rowland - "Work [Freemasons Remix]"
9. Solange - "I Decided, Part 2 [Freemasons Remix]"
8. MGMT - "Time to Pretend"
7. Michelle Williams - "We Break the Dawn"
6. Annie - "Songs Remind Me of You"
5. Adele - "Hometown Glory"
4. Leona Lewis - "Run"
3. Santogold - "Lights Out"
2. Kylie Minogue - "The One [Freemason's Remix]"
1. Cassie - "Official Girl"

Yes, now I know I promised links to all of these, but I have to do some errands and chores before heading out for New Years Eve celebrations so it will have to wait. I was planning on writing a little something about at least the top twenty, but I think they speak for themselves, really. I've spoken about many of them already right here on the blog and the ones I haven't... well, just go listen to them and hopefully you'll understand.

I know my #1 is a bit out of left field, but that's just how the pieces fell. Cassie is an incredibly transparent r&b singer and her second album has been in production limbo for a while now, but "Official Girl" is truly sublime. Slinky and a little bit sexy with dreamy synths and this young singer's vocals have improved and there's genuine emotion planted into the delivery. So cheers to Cassie for having released the best single of 2008 and cheers to everybody else who managed to find a spot on the list. It was exhaustive and my ears will welcome the rest.

And hear's to 2009. Best wishes. This is Stale Popcorn signing out for 2008!

Music Teaser


Songs that rank at positions 2, 3 and 4 in my Top 125 Singles of 2008 list are featured on this lil montage alongside six other charting singles. Coming later today will be the entire list. It will be the epitome of "wow, that's so amazing! I must tell all my friends", and I guarantee you have no idea what the top song is. NO.I.DEA.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Truck Flips Happened Before The Dark Knight

I'd just like to point out that The Dark Knight was not the first movie this decade to feature a big truck being caught up in wires and flipping over, okay?! Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines did it in 2003 and did it better.

This message was kindly brought to you by People For Recognition That Motion Pictures Existed Before The Dark Knight, a non-profit organisation made by people who like The Dark Knight but are rational enough to realise it isn't the greatest movie ever made in the known universe and that it didn't invent cinema. Thank you and good day.

"It is a priviledge to live in Camp Four"

In my continual effort to see more documentaries, this evening I got around to watching Alex Gibney's Taxi to the Dark Side. An Oscar winner earlier this year for Best Documentary and a deserving one at that, the film is thoroughly disturbing and will surely go down as one of the defining documents on war torture, especially in relation to George W Bush's "war on terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan. B+

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Best (and Worst) Posters of 2008

It is frustrating sometimes being a movie lover and not living in New York City (oh to dream). I am routinely unable to do a top ten list until June! Luckily for your guys I don't have to have seen all the movies to be able to judge their key art. As anybody who has read Stale Popcorn for longer than a week will know, I love posters. I talk about them a lot. This past year I even did a top 100 countdown and so here on the even of 2009 I present my favourite (and least favourite) pieces of poster art for the year 2008. I'm sure I've missed something that I will regret leaving out (such as the Zoo poster from last year's countdown), but thems the breaks!

(All posters can clicked on to enlarge)
(All posters accumulated at IMP)

10. Wall-E

Retro animation at it's finest.

9. The Strangers

Okay, so it spoils the film's biggest and best scare - although, so does the best trailer of 2008, side note - but it does everything a poster should: Makes you want to see the movie. If the thought behind this poster's image doesn't get you then you were never going to see it anyway.

8. In Bruges

I love a poster that is playful like this. See also The Bank Job.

7. The Black Waters of Echo's Pond

For all the huss-and-fuss over the poster campaign for last year's Grindhouse, these two posters for an obscure horror flick are the two most retro designs that I have seen recently. From the tea-stained borders, the creases and the hand-drawn aesthetic. All so wonderful.

6. The Wackness

You know you're on the right track with a movie set in the early 1990s when your key art instantly brings back memories of recording mix tapes. Such pitch perfect design here.

5. The House Bunny

No poster made me laugh as much as this poster, which puts Anna Faris front and centre where she belongs.

4. The Dark Knight

I couldn't decide which of these I liked more. The more classically beautiful city shot or the twisted and crazier Joker design. I cheated and used both. They're both excellent.

3. Goliath

I knew I had to rank this poster high because I have no idea what the movie is and yet I feel like I must see it or else I will EXPLODE. A lot of the time posters for these low budget independent movies can be really bad, but sometimes they have the luck of hiring a great designer who can come up with something like this. Another of these nearly made it in for the movie Fix, but it fell just short of the top ten.

2. Dear Zachery: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Just absolutely beautiful. Stunningly so.

1. Funny Games

Was there ever any doubt. Truly a masterpiece.

Now Just For Fun...
(excluding previously mentioned posters)

Best Rip-Off:
The Spirit

For ripping off everything about Sin City.

Best Poster That Could Have Easily Been Terrible:
27 Dresses

Essentially for not being this or this or (heaven forbid) this.

Dreamiest Use of Colour:
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Poster Series:
(Excluding The Dark Knight and Wall-E to be fair!)
No Right Turn

I know they're all fairly simple, but I like these posters, don't you?

Best Saul Bass Impersonation:
Burn After Reading

Runner-Up: Flawless - it would've won if it completely gave in to the idea.

Sexiest Poster:

Might as well sell your movie on Penelope Cruz' posterior, no?

Best "Do They Realise?" Moment:
Paranoid Park

Worst Photoshopping:
Sex and the City: The Movie

Or, since the scene is actually in the movie, Worst Non-Photoshopping When Photoshopping Was Necessary?

Unscariest Poster for a Scary Movie:
Dying Breed

Runner-Up: One Missed Call

Worst Backtracking:

Ummm... they went from a poster that told you enough to one that doesn't tell you a thing other than "Josh Hartnett wears clothes in this movie" and who wants that, honestly?

Worst False Advertising:
Sex and Death 101

Bridget Fonda circa the early '90s is not in this movie!

Worst "Empty Space" Offender:
Revolutionary Road

Most Unappealing Poster:
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Ugh, why would I want to see this smug-looking piece of garbage?

The "This Deserves a Better Poster" Award:
Milk, Revolutionary Road, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Rachel Getting Married, Changeling... etc etc. What a terrible terrible year for Oscar movies and their posters. Literally all of the above were dreadful!


The First Annual Showgirls Honourary Award for Brilliance in the Face of Ineptitude in Poster Design:


And that's that, folks. I can't be bothered doing any more because I'll go blind. What did you think? Did I miss anything? Speak up in the comments, please!

Brief Thoughts on Benjamin Button

Much like a certain other nigh-on-three-hour epic released recently David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin is a great flawed film. It is indeed the sprawling film that it had been made out to be and I thought it was really great - some parts more than others - but as a whole it has issues. I felt some of the characterisations were poor. Taraji P Henson, so praised by many people, I felt was actually one of the weakest assett's to the movie. She was charming and funny, but take her out of the movie and there isn't much of a hole that needs filling. Her character of "Queenie" doesn't feel like she lives outside of the movie, unlike some of the other supporting characters played by the likes of Tilda Swinton and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali.

Brad Pitt is better here than I have found him to be recently and Cate Blanchett is luminescent throughout many of her scenes. Technically the film is a beautiful with Claudio Miranda's sublime cinematography, Alexandre Desplat's dreamy score and the astonishing visual effects work all helping pull the film together in moments of weakness and strength. The art direction and Jacqueline West's costume design, I think, are the film's biggest assets outside of the special effects, effectively recreating many different time periods and making it appear effortless. You can barely tell you're moving through the decades of time.

I think my major issue with the film, however, lies with Eric Roth's screenplay. By making the opening hour of the movie so curious (pun intended) with itself it sets the film's second half up - it is three hours long, remember - to be rushed. And while the final two hours glided by with ease, I would have actually preferred a bit less time spent on the early time of Benjamin's life and more as he navigates through the difficult younger years.

I did, however, cry and I will freely admit that. It's the first 2008 film in which I have actually shed tears. It certainly helps that I currently have a close family member going through a tough battle of dementia that made the final moments so hard to watch, but even earlier than these moments I found the film actually worked for my tears instead of merely expecting them.

I haven't mentioned the director David Fincher, which I find strange myself considering it feels so much like a director's film and yet... and yet... I don't know. What's there that is ostensibly Fincher? I'm not entirely sure. One thing I am very sure of is that Tilda Swinton has officially moved up into the echelon of my favourite actresses. I thought Swinton's Elizabeth Abbott was the film's highlight. The way she recites her dialogue and the way her face moves is utterly captivating in every possible way and through her brief scenes made the strongest impression out of everybody. B+ although it may go down to a B, depending on how it holds up in my mind.

Okay, maybe not so brief. What did you think if your country has been deemed worthy enough of seeing it?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

This Week on Australian Screens [Boxing Day Edition]

Cinema Releases for the Week 26/12/08

The last week of the year tends to get a big mix of prestige (usually Oscar-bound) fare and big blockbusters. Not so much of the latter this year, but the former is definitely on offer!

Bedtime Stories - I wasn't aware this movie was out here so soon. Adam Sandler's in it so I'm sure it'll be big. Reminds me of Night at the Museum, which I really didn't like at all.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Many film-obsessed cinema pilgrims will be out in force to see the latest film from David Fincher, this time starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. And it's nice that, for a change, we're getting a big Oscar touted film at the same time as America. Gee, golly, you mean we'll actually get to discuss the film with other people?! Wow. BTW, cinemas aren't the popular Christmas Day destination that they are in America, whereas Boxing Day is quite huge.

The Day the Earth Stood Still - I haven't heard one positive remark made about this Keanu Reeves remake of the '50s sci-fi classic. Jennifer Connolly strikes again!!

Frost/Nixon - Michael Sheen and Frank Langella go head-to-head in Ron Howard's film adaptation of the TONY-winning play.

I've Loved You So Long - French drama starring Kristen Scott Thomas. I really liked this movie, but it hasn't quite caught on with awards bodies the way I thought it might (especially in regards to Thomas' performance).

Let the Right One In - I saw this film at MIFF earlier in the year was liked it fine, but not anything overly dramatic, yet it has been getting out and out raves from critics upon release and it's winning tonnes of Best Foreign Film prizes. What exactly did I miss? Have I, as an Australian film viewer, becoming desensitised to "coming of age" stories?

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Woody Allen's upteenth "comeback" has been in the Australian top 10 at the box office for two weeks now and it's only in previews! Shows how desperate we are for new films. I really liked this movie too and will smile when Penelope Cruz (hopefully) wins that Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

DVD Releases for the Week 26/12/08

Speed Racer - Actually out on the 24th. Just in case you wanted to buy it today for a Christmas present. Not that many people would, mind you, but if you wanted to you can.

Stop-Loss - I was originally so pumped for the latest Kimberley Pierce movie and then it was released and I kind of didn't care. DVD is assured though.

TV Screenings for the Week 26/12/08

26/12/08, Teacher's Pet (2004), 7HD, 10.30AM - Is it wrong that I really liked this film version of the Disney television series? Like, incredibly so. I don't really know why. The songs sure were catchy though!

27/12/08, Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), C7, 1.15PM - Oscar-nominated movie.

27/12/08, Footy Legends (2006), C10, 8.35PM - I am only mentioning this movie because it is probably the second worst movie I've seen from this current decade. That takes effort, folks! Still, don't even consider watching it. It's atrocious.

27/12/08, All the President's Men (1976), C9, 11.40PM - If I remember correctly I liked this movie but didn't love it. Maybe I'll give it another go. The presence of Robert Redford helps me forget about how much I don't like Dustin Hoffman.

28/12/08, Ducktales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990), C7, 8.30AM - Why did I not know there was a Ducktales movie? And a theatrically-released one too! I was all about Ducktales as a kid so WHERE WAS I?!?

28/12/08, The Fantasticks (1995/2000), C7, 11.50AM - A feature film version of the long-running show that was filmed and only released in 2000. How strange. Stars Joel Grey.

28/12/08, Days of Glory (2006), SBS, 9.30PM - Oscar-nominated film that went by the title Indigenes in some circles.

28/12/08, Down by Law (1986), SBS, 11.35PM - See Roberto Benigni from before he was incredibly annoying! (psst, he's was just as annoying then.) Oh, but Tom Waits is excellent.

30/12/08, Mystery Train (1989), SBS, 1.05AM - Another Jim Jarmusch film to whet your appetite. I haven't seen this one so I'll try and check it out.

30/12/08, Quadrophenia (1979), ABC1, 11.15PM - Oh man, I've wanted to see this movie for so long!!! Excellent.

31/12/08, Same Time, Next Year (1978), ABC1, 11.35PM - I find it amusing that they're putting a movie with this title on at the strike of New Year. The film that finally won Ellen Burstyn an Academy Award, also starring Alan Alda with a terrible haircut!

New Years Day, Can't Stop the Music (1980), C9, 12.15AM - What better way to start the new year than with the Village People music Can't Stop the Music? WHAT BETTER WAY?!? It's "the musical event of the '80s" of course!!