Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jeremy Saunders - The Poster Man

I had the pleasure of doing an interview with one Jeremy Saunders. In the same five years I have increasingly become addicted to poster artwork, as I'm sure many of you have noticed, and Jeremy Saunders was the first name in the field whose name I knew. His early designs were always good, but it took a while for the man to truly be recognised as the key art extraordinaire that he is. You would have seen a bunch of his designs littered about in my top 50 posters of the decade list from earlier in the year as well as the (outdated, yes, I'd totally change so much about that list now) 100 greatest movie poster list I did back in 2008.

The interview is now up at Trespass Mag and it would be nice of y'all to read it. He gave me a wealth of stuff to write about, which is always good.

Image courtesy of Mark Rogers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Catherine Zeta-Jones' Waist Got Devoured by a Washing Machine and Other Curious Musings

My computer was in the shop last week when my latest article for Trespass Mag went up and then I forgot all about it so here I am to make you aware of its existence! In this month's poster roundup I look at hodgepodge photoshopping on the works for The Rebound and My One and Only as well as one of the best sight gags for a film poster in quite some time. Click here to read all about it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happiness is a New Todd Solondz Movie

See what I did there with that entry title? Now if only Todd Solondz would actually make a movie about The Beatles and the pun would be trebled.

I don't have anything to say about this really, but it's a new poster for a new Todd Solondz movie, which means I've got to post it. I didn't think much of Solondz's last movie, Palindromes apart from its wonderful poster, but he is the man that made Happiness, Welcome to the Doll House and Storytelling so I can forgive him for that mis-step (I can even forgive Jennifer Jason Leigh if you forced me too). The poster looks... like a Todd Solondz movie poster. I'm not sure if Life During Wartime has an Australian distributor yet - I'd wager no - but I hope it gets one eventually. Or, if nothing else, at least a screening at Melbourne International Film Festival in July/August so I can get a chance to see it. Here's hoping!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not the Scott Pilgrim Vs The World Trailer

Yes, the trailer for Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim Vs The World was released today and it was very good and all very exciting, but if you want to see that there are about 500 billion other websites that have somehow made it through their shortness of breath to post it and I don't think it'll take you too long to come across it.

Instead I want to direct you to the newly released trailer for Aussie crime thriller Animal Kingdom that can be found at the official website. Also released today was the poster (below), created by none other than Jeremy Saunders. It's quite good, isn't it? Of course it is! As for the trailer... I like it. It could perhaps stand to be a little less "WORTHY!" but I think the use of American critics helps since so many Australians only go to see Aussie films when they've been certified by people that aren't Australian (such as Samson & Delilah last year after winning at Cannes). Sources (as in Palace Films on Twitter) say that Jacki Weaver "OWNS the film," which is good to hear, and hardly surprising, but she's not prominent in the trailer. I do love her line-reading of "you've done some bad things Sweetie."


Animal Kingdom stars Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Jacki Weaver, Guy Pearce and Guy Pearce's moustache. Cannot wait for this movie, how about you?!

ETA The trailer has been uploaded to YouTube so you can now view it here (because I know some of you wouldn't have bothered to go to the official website, am I right?) in all of its glory.


Geen-yus!

The clapper woman on the set of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is a hoot and seems to be channeling Penelope Cruz from Vicky Cristina Barcelona for a bit of it before going into a sort of Madonna/"Vogue" roll call of famous filmmakers like Fritz Lang, Clint Eastwood, David Cronenberg, Dario Argento, Amy Heckerling, David Lynch, Frank Capra, Atom Egoyan and Akira Kurosawa.

The Box is a Terrible Movie!

Like, really terrible. D

Review: Welcome

Welcome
Dir. Philippe Lioret
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 100mins

The surprising, and quite shocking, laws that revolve around the French illegal immigrant crisis provide the central crux of Philippe Lioret's Lumiere Award-winning drama Welcome. With its ironic title, strong performances and its tale that plays like a harsher and all-around better version of The Blind Side, Welcome becomes one of the most refreshing French titles to reach Australian cinemas in a while, if not necessarily one of the very best.

It's a fantastic and gripping opening sequence where we witness Kurdish teenager Bilal (newcomer Firat Ayverdi) attempting to make his way out of France to get to his girlfriend in England. Along with his travelling companions, Bilal is captured and thus sets of a chain of events that will see him cross paths with former Olympian Simon (an excellent Vincent Lindon) who now gives swimming lessons at a local public pool. Simon's ex-wife, Marion (Audrey Dana) warns the gruff and lonely Simon that helping this boy could result in five-years jail and a substantial fine, something that I was personally quite shocked to discover were actual repercussions for anybody found guilty of helping these refugees in France under Nicolas Sarkozy's government.


It's a stunning facet of French society that lends Welcome a substantial amount of heft in the drama stakes. Helped along by a screenplay by Lioret, Emmanuel Courcol and Olivier Adam that thankfully steers the rather Hollywood storyline from the mundane to the potent. I couldn't help but see the similarities between Welcome and The Blind Side as both revolve around people who are thoroughly bored with their lives and decide to help someone far less fortunate than they, despite the social implications, and all-but adopting their chosen cause. Welcome is obviously the better film and thanks to Lioret's direction, it manages to be warm without whitewashing.


Unfortunately it is this Hollywood arc that allows the film to slip when it shouldn't. Characters other than Simon are rudimentary and black or white, whether it be the saintly ex wife school teacher who feeds the homeless in her spare time, the evil neighbour who glowers and represents the conservative right, or the naive Bilal. I found it quite difficult as a viewer to truly believe Bilal's mission - to swim the English Channel - or that he was stupid enough to attempt it. So much so that the film's end lacked the emotional punch that I suspect others felt. The film's strengths do not lie in its subtleties, but more in the performances, the light that it sheds on such a troubling development for French politics and Lioret's ability to keep the audience fixed on this important issue. It's just a shame that the end turns far-fetched. B

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mother Issues

Joining the ever-growing list of films that fall into the Aussie cinematic subgenre of "my mother was eccentric and now I've made a movie about her" (not to be confused with the other parental subgenre of "my father was an abusive drunk and I will confront my issues with him now that I'm in my 30s thanks to Australian film funding bodies", naturally) is Andrew Lancaster's Accidents Happen. The aforementioned eccentric mother is this time played by Geena Davis (yes, Geena Davis) and follows in the time-honoured tradition of Brenda Blethyn (Clubland), Joan Chen (The Home Song Stories) and others.


Fast forward to 2:01 to see what I mean. Gotta love Geoffrey Rush!

Accidents Happen actually looks quite nice though and appears to have a really exciting visual look going on and, yes, Geena Davis looks to have hit it outta the park. That laugh at the end during the exchange about electrocution is quite endearing for some reason. And can we discuss how much Harry Cook looks like Mike Vogel? Because he does. A lot.

Scream 4 is a Go!

I have withheld from commenting here on the news of a Scream 4. Not even when the initial excitement of a Kevin Williamson-written sequel was first announced, nor when the likes of Courteney Cox, David Arquette and even, after long-wrangling, Neve Campbell were announced as cast-members. But it has now been officially announced that Wes Craven is on board to direct and now I can officially start getting officially excited. Yeah! Officially!

Longtime readers will be very much aware of my love affair with the Scream franchise. It has literally changed my life more than any other and the idea of a fourth has always been there as something I wanted because, ya know, it's Scream, but also didn't want because, ya know, it's Scream. I'm of the belief that the much-maligned Scream 3 was itself a parody of the franchise, which by that stage had been - to use a term popularised by the 1996 original - gutted, spoofed and replicated so many times that all the tricks had already been played.

Scream 3 was released in 2000 and four year's later came Saw, which brought about the opening of the "torture porn" floodgates and it seemed good ol' fashioned, fun and fright slasher flicks were put on the back-burner. And if a horror movie came along with the slasher vibe it turned out to be a lightweight comedy of errors - I'm looking at you Prom Night and When a Stranger Calls. I mean, even franchises that once fell into that glorious subsection of horror films such as the Friday the 13th and Halloween films ended up adding new titles to their brood that strayed from the fun side of things into the i-need-a-tetanus-shot-after-this bio-hazardous area like Hostel or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (despite myself thinking that latter remake was terrific) and those franchises became worse off for them. Friday the 13th was particularly deplorable and dreadful and does anybody truly think Rob Zombie's Halloween reboot was better than Halloween: H20? I hope the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street doesn't fall too hard into the "gritty" trap.


Hopefully the Scream title can once again bring about a resurgence in the sort of films that filled my teenage years with pretty 30-year-old-playing-17-year-old victims running away from masked slashers. One can only hope. It will be interesting to see how Williamson and Craven can both mock and yet caress lovingly on the horror films that have come along in the ten years since the series ended, which is exactly what Scream 4 needs to do. Since these films are all about horror movies, they can't just ignore that the last 10 years haven't happened, but it also can't just become one of them.

It's going to be a delicate tightrope for Williamson and Craven in making Scream 4. They can't go reinventing the wheel here - for instance, the "opening victim" (Drew Barrymore, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Liev Schreiber) must remain - but they also can't do it all the same. If they don't mix it up a bit the film will become perfunctory and a wasted opportunity. The Scream films have all had something to say about cinema, violence and horror movie audiences and I think there's plenty more to say on the matter. I can almost picture the masked killer ripping off his or her (or their) mask(s) to the surprise of all and giving the remaining cast members a lecture on why audiences shouldn't take horror movies for granted and that horror cinema has lost its way - much like it had in the years leading up to Scream, naturally - and that there's more to making a horror movie than just watching someone slowly be drained of blood or whatever nastiness the latest Saw flick has splattered audiences with. "Horror is theatre!" is what Mickey would say if he could still talk or be alive in general.

So from now until April 2011, the film's supposed release date, you will surely be hearing a lot about Scream 4 from me. It will be interesting to see what sort of familiar, almost forgotten faces - think Laurie Metcalf, Kelly Rutherford, Patrick Dempsey, Drew Barrymore or Parker Posey - they place alongside the young, pretty things like Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emily Mortimer, Rose McGowen or Skeet Ulrich. And I wonder if Portia De Rossi's eyebrows will make a cameo? Perhaps they will be the opening victim?!? I will say this in relation to casting though, if I were Lindsay Lohan (or any other recently rehabbed star on the look out for redemption) I would desperately seek out the role of the opening victim. I don't know a single person who doesn't credit Scream with a large portion of Drew Barrymore's comeback. And that it, to this day, ranks as Drew's finest hour 11 minutes, is quite an accomplishment for "just another slasher movie" as some would call it.



I'm almost as excited as Casey Becker's intestines! Let's just hope that Courteney Cox shows up with better hair this time!


Their looks say it all!

Celebration

To celebrate Christ Evans accepting the part of Captain America in the new film Captain America: Unnecessary Subtitle That Will Be Used to Abbreviate the Full Title Overseas Because Nobody Outside of America Cares about "Captain America" Just Like Superman I thought we should take a look back at the last time Evans got himself vacuum-sealed inside a tight and restricting superhero costume, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. In fact, let us celebrate him getting out of that costume instead, shall we?






I say "getting out of that costume" for two reasons. Firstly because, well, duh, just LOOK at the man. Secondly, wasn't that "franchise" just one of the worst attempts at creating a franchise ever conceived? So completely and utterly wrongheaded except for Evans who was the only thing in those movies worth the time. There are so many things wrong with those movies that it was actually refreshing to see Evans have fun on screen. Especially when everyone else was acting all dour and moody as if being given superpowers is some sad tragedy. Yikes.

Hopefully this "Captain America" thing works out for him, but I can't say I don't see another Superman Returns on our hands here. Maybe they can give Parker Posey a supporting role and she can help rescue it from the depths of bad movie hell like in that dunderheaded Superman reboot. In fact, can people just cast Parker Posey in anything, really?

Oh yeah, Chris Evans? He is very good looking and I guess that's all that matters at this point.

Outside of the Box Square

I always like to see how Australian films get sold overseas, especially America. Apparition, the upstart distributor that kinda ruined Jane Campion's Bright Star Oscar campaign, has their hands on Nash Edgerton's debut thriller The Square and it is being released in America on 9 April, nearly two full years since it opened here in Australia. The movie is very good, although audiences here didn't even realise it was released (such a shame). Hopefully its box office fortunes can be reversed and The Square can enjoy some arthouse success.

Unfortunately I can't find an Australian trailer to compare it to (was there even one produced?), but there are handy quotes from places like AICN in the American trailer to woo audiences. I hope it works, but considering how adverse to actual good small movies American audiences seem to be lately (unless it comes with an exotic flavour, naturally) I highly doubt it. You should check it out though and be the cool kid on campus... or wherever it is that you reside.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Technical Difficulties


Sorry, my computer appears to have imploded (or... I don't really know) so it's going into the shop. I am using my housemate's spare laptop at the moment so I should be able to post something. Eep.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells
Dir. Tomm Moore
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: PG
Running Time: 75mins

I'm going to fess up right from the get go: I haven't the foggiest idea what The Secret of Kells is going on about. Minimal research has told me about the Book of Kells, but that still doesn't help me. Throw in the movies' enchanted forests, mystical foreign lands and weird ghost girls who turn into wolves and I basically sat down for 75 minutes without the faintest idea as to what I was watching. Thankfully what I was watching was pretty, so it has that going for it.

The Secret of Kells is an Irish hand-drawn animated film that surprised with a nomination at the recent Academy Awards in the Best Animated Feature category. The film isn't anything particularly exciting - if ancient religious books and Irish lore circa the ninth century is your idea of exciting then by all means, be excited - and manages to be as successful as it is because of its, at times, rapturous animation beauty. So many gorgeous sights to behold within this movie despite the rather simple design of the characters. I particularly found myself in awe of a moment involving a pit of butterflies. At times even flirting with a sort of art deco design, The Secret of Kells wouldn't have been my pick for a token arty nomination, but I can't say that the branch weren't thinking for themselves when they jotted it down on their ballot. B-

Friday, March 19, 2010

Switchin' It Up

If you must - and I mean absolutely MUST - use the tired stripey design for your movie poster then you could do worse than doing what The Switch, formerly known repulsively as The Baster, and actually used quite humourous movie stills as opposed to just a couple of shots of the cast looking bored. I particularly like Jason Baseman's facial expression. I also like the mixing up of fonts, colours and styles in the credit block to help make it look a little less stale.

The movie still sounds repugnant though, doesn't it?


And now comes the trailer, which makes the movie look far more appealing that any synopsis does. And kudos on getting people like Juliette Lewis and Jeff Goldblum (see, not dead!) in supporting roles. I particularly like the exchange between Bateman and Bryce Robinson about hypochondria towards the end. Dare I say, it actually looks "cute"?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

Following on from yesterday when Hugh Jackman sang a song in Mandarin on TV, today we have Hugh Jackman dancing a dance in a Japanese hotel for Lipton Ice Tea. Naturally. The commercial is a complete ripoff of the Fatboy Slim "Weapon of Choice" video clip with Christopher Walken, but if you're going to ripoff anything, why not that? What would make this commercial better was if it was for Snapple. Now that's a drink I can get behind.

I Am Gorgeous

I am not doing any "year in advance" Oscar nominations this year because, well, I can't be bothered. One prediction, however, that I was going to make was Yorick Le Saux for Best Cinematography with I Am Love. Having seen the UK trailer, below, I think it's as good a bet as any and the Academy has definitely been willing to nominate arty foreign films in this category when they had little to no chance for success elsewhere (I'm looking at you A Very Long Engagement, The White Ribbon and Malèna!)

How gorgeous does this movie look? Throw in Tilda Swinton and I an waiting with baited breath for I Am Love. I am hoping that it gets a slot at the Melbourne International Film Festival or that the fact that it's Italian means some distributor picks it up because, hey, it's Italian and people would rather their artsy fartsy Tilda Swinton movies to be in Italian rather than English (have you seen Julia yet?!?)

Wall Street 2: Shia Wears a Suit

I'm gonna level with you: The only reason I am going to see Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps is for Shia LeBeouf wearing suits. Okay, yes, a little bit of Carey Mulligan, too, but mostly Shia in suits. Sure, I'll take Shia in a biker jacket, or in jeans and a tee, trackie dacks or nothing at all, but throw him in a suit and I'm gone. Preferably clean-shaven too.

...just bear with me, I'm having a "moment".

Shia just did a photoshoot for GQ in which he does nothing but sit sound in a suit looking sexy, which is good enough for me. I'm glad he's not running around like a drunken goose anymore and getting arrested for being high in a 7/11 (or whatever), which makes the moments where he's actually got something to sell far more noteworthy. And sexy. Check out all the rest here.



God I hope I don't have to pay to see Wall Street 2!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Do You Say "Incredible" in Mandarin?

My affinity for Hugh Jackman knows no bounds (well, I did skip Wolverine) and now he's singing country and western songs in Mandarin for a new movie by Wayne Wang. That is, yes, incredible!

Killed

I like Katherine Heigl. I've mentioned this many times before. Subsequently I like her poster for Killers (below). I like the look and the funny wig and it actually sells the movie as a sorta comedy with thrills much better than that terrible poster for Knight & Day, in which Cameron Diaz has some sort of phallic object poking out from her skirt!


And then I look at the poster featuring Ashton Kutcher and I think SHMUCK!



SHMUUUUUCCKK!!!!

Sorry, he's just really a shmuck.

These posters don't even go well together. She looks like she's imitating old-fashioned crime movies, but he looks like he just got in from filming a cameo on Entourage.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movies in Movies: The Unholy Three in Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Review: Brothers

Brothers
Dir. Jim Sheridan
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 104mins

As my friend and I walked out of our screening of Brothers we couldn't help but both point a finger on what we felt was wrong with it. Not that either of us didn't like it, much to the contrary actually since we both liked it quite a bit, but it was the ending that left us unsatisfied. Now, I am not a fan of writing reviews in which I express my obvious* wisdom** and let the director know what they should have done, but so strong was our argument that I can't help but bring it up. More on that later.

I have not seen the Danish film by Susanne Bier, Brødre, that Jim Sheridan's film is a remake of - although it was immediately placed atop my DVD queue when I got home - but I am lead to believe that he and screenwriter David Benioff have been incredibly faithful. I imagine many people will be in a similar situation and will be going to see Brothers based on the accumulative star power of Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal rather than their fondness for the original so I don't think that harms one's critical assessment of the film.


Having been sent away for another tour of Iraq, Tobey Maguire's Tommy Cahill is shot down and presumed dead, leaving a grieving wife (Natalie Portman) and recently-released-from-jail brother (Jake Gyllenhaal). Anyone who has seen the original film will know what follows and those who have not will surely be able to guess, but may be surprised at the extent. Once Tommy returns home - this is not a spoiler since Maguire is the first credited cast member and it is all over the marketing - he sets in motion a series of romantic and familial troubles.

While Portman is incredibly miscast - surely she is the hottest young mother of two in a Hollywood movie - the rest of the cast is the main reason you should see the film. Maguire received the bulk of the praise, even receiving a Golden Globe nomination, and he is fine even when Tommy descends into madness, I thought it was Gyllenhaal who came out best out of the three major players. Even then, the best work is left to the supporting players. Mare Winningham is truly wonderful as Maguire and Gyllenhaal's stepmother, while Sam Shepard has some fine moments as their father. A dinner scene late in the movie allows Bailee Madison to shine as the eldest, angry Cahill daughter and in a tiny role is Jenny Wade who makes quite an impression with her limited screen time.


The film generally works quite well and manages to spin a considerable about of drama out of the quite formulaic storyline. However - and I did warn you this was coming - I think Sheridan and Benioff did a disservice to the film by revealing the secret behind Maguire's character and what happened to him in Iraq. The film makes no secret of what goes on and I can't help but think that the film would have packed a more substantial punch if they had have left it a secret and allowed it to be revealed to the audience at the same time as it is revealed to the characters in the movie. As it is the film ends of a relatively flat note. It builds and builds, but then just ends because Maguire's big confession is little more than telling us something we already know, making it land with a dramatic thud. B

Now I need to see Brødre

* Ahem
** AHEM!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Michael Fassbender is Running...

...running from the illness that has plagued the ranks of Stale Popcorn (er, me). I'm going to try to create some enthusiasm to blog, but who knows if I will be successful. Hopefully soon you will have reviews of Kick-Ass plus French films Welcome and Coco & Igor to pour over as well as more poster goodies and my epic long-in-gestation "best of the '00s" countdown (I hope it's worth it).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sick

I had totally planned on giving you guys stuff this weekend, but alas I am sick and haven't the energy. Enjoy this picture of Rihanna instead.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hoot

The new Australia/USA co-production of Legend of the Guardians has released a trailer and I'm not sure what to think. Something about the idea of a movie about OWLS doesn't exactly fill me withe excitement, nor does the use of radio friendly rock music in the trailer, but there ya. The animation sure does look good though. Not sure why Zack Snyder wanted to direct this, but he has and he has assembled a nice selection of actors for vocal duties, although Hugo Weaving has officially crossed over into frustratingly ubiquitous Morgan Freeman territory in regards to his many, many voice performances.

We shall see.

Coming Soon

I bet you thought I had just decided not to do a "best of the decade" type of thing, yeah? Well I have, I've just been working on it and waiting to see some of movies from 2009 that I wanted to before I could complete it. It will be starting very soon. I will say this it though, it's not what you will expect (as in, it's not just a list of my favourite movies.) How exciting.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Stream of Consciousness

I'm basically going to copy and paste what I have written in the comment sections of other blogs because I can't be bothered molding my very negative thoughts of the show into anything other than a very loose stream-of-consciousness piece.


This show was so terribly produced and directed, that it took away from the fact that, generally, all the winners were a-okay in my book. Really, Adam Shankman should NEVER be asked to return. NEVER. EVER. Good gawd, he strangled that show of any life it had last year (a ceremony I enjoyed tremendously).

I like Neil Patrick Harris, but, really, it appears that being liked by Adam Shankman is enough to get you a gig on the Oscars! And then you got people like Taylor Lautner and Miley Cyrus who barely have anything resembling a movie career getting to present. @scrivenersfancy (aka Tony Martin) said it best on Twitter: "Thank God they didn't let Roger Corman or Lauren Bacall make a speech. I really need to hear what Miley Cyrus has to say" Did Adam Shankman just go to Perez Hilton and ask people to present if they have 500 entries or more about them. Demi Moore, really? No.

I liked last year's five previous winners thing, but this year's five merely friends or co-stars thing was all wrong. And then trotting last year's winner out to announce the winner randomly? Weird. And that they only did it for the lead categories just shows you how they weren't completely behind the idea at all. Last year's ceremony was done so much better, but last year's worst moment was the horrendous Best Original Song presentation. They didn't include performances this year, which I still this is wrong. They can't make time for the likes of Marion Cotillard, Anika Noni Rose, Colin Farrell and Jeff Bridges to get on stage and perform what could have gone down as classic Oscar moments, but you could get the So You Think You Can Dance kids to do a weird un-related interpretive dance to the score nominees? That category has never been done better than when they simply had Yo Yo Ma on stage performing score vignettes in, I think, 2001. It was a car crash this year.

From a technical standpoint it was dreadful. The sound issues never let up. People watching the TV can barely hear the announcing lady as she introduces presenters. The backstage crew could repeatedly be heard during the presentations and those awkward silences between categories and the the baffling five-ten seconds after EACH AND EVERY best picture montage of just the crowd sitting there clapping BUT WITH NO SOUND were baffling! What the hell was going on there? I could repeatedly see workers running across the stage either before or just after the commercial breaks.

What about the stage sets? At one point when Jake Gyllenhaal came out to present there was literally no set at all! At one point the backdrop looked like cardboard cutouts of lampshades. It lacked all the class of last year's more intimate, but glamourous set. And I can only imagine that it was Adam Shankman's ridiculous and misguided thought that brought "and the winner is" back into the Oscar lexicon, not to mention the silly best actor presentation at the start of the ceremony. Embarrassing and yet more offensive decisions at the expense of people who work behind the camera. How about all the times people got cut off? Maybe if they didn't include stupid interpretive dance sequences then people would be able to talk and not get cut off.


And then there was that superfluous horror montage. It was nicely made and I did like that they actually included slasher flicks like Scream, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even The Blob. What I didn't understand was what it was doing there? Or how about the fact that it featured only one tiny moment from a Roger Cormon movie, despite Cormon being specifically honoured just a while earlier! Why include Jennifer Aniston from Leprechaun, Renee Zellweger from Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th, why not Brad Pitt in Cutting Class or Patricia Arquette in Friday the 13th Part III or Katherine Heigl in Bride of Chucky? It was all just so incredibly strange. Edward Scissorhands? Nothing from The Others, The Haunting or Suspiria, but clip after clip after clip of The Shining and Bram Stoker's Dracular. It was superfluous, but Casey Becker's intestine's appreciated the sentiment.

I do have to say that the default presenter thing is so annoying. Cameron Diaz has presented Best Animated Feature almost every year that the category has existed, I swear (I know for sure she's presented it three times) and Sarah Jessica Parker/Tina Fey presenting their categories two years in a row (for who are significantly more TV-oriented actors) is just annoying. There are SO MANY amazing actors that are working now (and many many more who aren't) that could do it. I'd rather see Shirley Maclaine present every year before I see Tina Fey (and I like Tina Fey!)

The use of Streisand as Best Director presenter would have really backfired if Bigelow hadn't have won, yeah? But, still, it just joins a long list of obvious presenters. How about when they go George Lucas/Steven Spielberg/Francis Ford Coppola to present the year that Martin Scorsese won. Yeah, okay, that wasn't obvious was it? Maybe next year they can get Bigelow with Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola to present Best Director.

I wish they'd make more interesting combos like that. I really don't care about Sarah Jessica Parker presenting Best Costume Design, or whatever so-hot-right-now combination they put together. And getting Tom Hanks to present Best Picture? Yawn. Was Jack Nicholson busy? Why not famous pairs from past Best Picture winners? Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins! Shirley Maclaine and Debra Winger! I could go on for ages. Instead they bring out Tom Hanks who doesn't even get given the chance to read out the nominees names because he is being pushed along to finish things. Disgraceful.


How about the Best Cinematography presentation have no video! I'm sure it was a technical snafu, but it was a pathetic one if it was. How long do they have to get this show right? And then the category honouring the movie that looks the best doesn't even get a video package? Oy. Or speaking of offensive, how about playing Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" as Kathryn Bigelow walked off the stage? How did John Hughes get his own tribute, too, I'd like to know. I love his movies, but that, yet again, stunk of Adam Shankman doing stuff for people he liked and not giving a damn about anyone else. I'm surprised he didn't do a tribute to Michael Jackson! And if they were going to do a big John Hughes tribute why not get all the names that appeared in his movies like Dave Poland suggests. Like, thanks Macualey Culkin for your insights that Hughes was "really nice". Not once, but twice. Really really nice.

Other random bad things about the show? The bizarre people they got to present the Best Picture nominees? How come Jason Bateman was the only one allowed to introduce a film he was actually in? How is Charlize Theron at all connected to Precious other than that she's African American (and the fact that she's also white would surely go over Adam Shankman's head, so we're back to square one and asking "why?") Or how about getting Colin Farrell to intro Jeremy Renner, his co-star from... er, S.W.A.T.? Why not get Charlize to intro Jeremy and get Helen Mirren to intro Precious (she was set to star in it and was in Lee Daniels' first film, Shadowboxer) and then things make slightly more sense. I don't even wanna go into why anybody thought the sodomy stuff from A Single Man was appropriate for the Oscar telecast, either.

Did I actually like anything I hear you ask? Well, yes, I did. I thought most of the winners were actually very good. I may have liked some variety in the technical categories, maybe throw a bone to Inglourious Basterds or The White Ribbon in Best Cinematography, and at least Sandy Powell was able to make a snarky jibe at the Academy's expense upon her absurd win for Best Costume Design. My favourite part of the evening was the acting clip montages they use, specifically during the supporting actor presentations. I think that should become the standard. None of this "we're friends/co-stars/spouses" mumbo jumbo anymore, and don't revert back to the standard "oscar clip". The montage gave a more rounded view of not only the performance, but the film. I wasn't aware that The Messender had some light-hearted moments in it, but I do now. I liked that Stanley Tucci was as unimpressed with his performance as Cate Blanchett was with hers from a few years back.


I enjoyed Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin at the start, but they disappeared after that and apart from the snuggie joke, they kinda got forgotten about. Not sure why they brought up The Last Station and Invictus when referring to the widening of the Best Picture field, but maybe it was just the way it was worded. I thought there were some nice speeches such as Sandra Bullock and Mo'Nique, but generally they were disappointing, and the only real surprise was Geoffrey Fletcher's win for Best Adapted Screenplay over Up in the Air (deserved too, I think). That Best Animated Feature presentation was spot on, too. Thankfully they ditched the tired routine of animated characters sitting in audience seats. I really liked the Coraline piece most of all.

Overall I think the show itself was, quite obviously, a disaster. Truly no other word for it. A big ol' disastrous sinking ship of an awards show. Just dreadful. What about you?

Nice White Lady

Look, I'm not getting angry or anything like that over Sandra Bullock's Oscar win for The Blind Side. It makes perfect sense, really, even if I would have preferred Gabby Sidibe or Carey Mulligan to take it out. However, for those who are fuming or for those who merely like a big laugh here is the "trailer" for Nice White Lady that surfaced several years ago on MadTV. It's still relevant and it's still hilarious.



The poster up above, by the way, is from College Humor.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Welcome to the Gabby-house

We love Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe around here (by "we" I mean me, and by "around here" I mean on the blog) and if there's one person who has amassed more goodwill than Sandra Bullock throughout this Oscar season it is Gabby. During her acceptance speech for Best Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her role in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire she said this (courtesy The Film Experience's live-blogging of the awards) and it does not do anything but amaze me.

My mom used to pay me $2 a day to go to school and I used to ride by an independent movie theater. I saved up my money for a week so I could see Welcome to the Dollhouse. And that's the first film I saw where I thought... I could do that. So to be corny I'll say that is perhaps when my independent spirit was born. Now I am officially corny.

That is amazing. Gabby Sidibe saw Welcome to the Dollhouse! I wouldn't have expected that, but then again I haven't gotten a lot of what I expected from Gabourey, which is partially why she's been so entertaining to watch this season (plus, she gives an incredible Oscar-worthy performance). Wienerdog has a fan in Claireece "Precious" Jones. Isn't that just made in socially outcast movie heroine heaven?

The awards are set to start in less than 30minutes and I'm already live-tweeting up a storm so be sure to click on over.

Completely Pointless and Predictable Oscar Nominations

So, I had planned to do this much earlier, but I've been without the Internet for a couple of days due to a mix of continuous waiting for my new ADSL2 connection to kick in, pre-paid internet running out and big vicious storms here in Melbourne meaning turning on the computer was a big no-no. Now it's Sunday evening and I cannot be entirely bothered. I'm totally psyched for the awards tomorrow - live from 12.30pm, repeated later (but probably edited just like last year when the screenplay categories were dumped! - and will be live-tweeting over on my Twitter page (obviously) if you would like my hilarious*, unique^ and excessive** minute-by-minute observations.

Anywhere, here are my predictions in completely un-spectacular style.

BEST PICTURE
Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Alternate: Avatar
My Vote: An Education or Precious, depending on the mood of the day.

BEST DIRECTOR
Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Alternate: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
My Vote: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTOR
Will Win: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Alternate: Colin Firth, A Single Man
My Vote: Colin Firth

I should note that I have not seen Crazy Heart.

BEST ACTRESS
Will Win: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Alternate: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
My Vote: Gabourey Sidibe or Carey Mulligan, depending on the mood of the day.

I do think this is between Sandra and Gabourey rather than Sandra and Meryl, but there ya go. How anyone can watch Gabby's "nobody love me" scene and vote for either Bullock or Streep is just absurd.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will Win: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Alternate: Really? LOL!
My Vote: Christoph Waltz

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will Win: Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
Alternate: HAHAHAH YOU ARE VERY FUNNY FOR SUGGESTING THIS, GLENN!
My Vote: Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will Win: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Alternate: Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
My Vote: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Obviously this could go either way, but I think they err on the side of fame. Plus, maybe they'll see Mark Boal is a nominated producer and that he gets a statue if it wins Best Picture so, perhaps, they won't vote for him here? Nah. Whatever. I just really wanna see Tarantino on that stage with another trophy in his hand.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will Win: Jason Reitman and that dude who didn't do much on the screenplay, Up in the Air
Alternate: Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
My Vote: Nick Hornby, An Education

BEST EDITING
Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Alternate: Avatar
My Vote: Avatar

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Alternate: Inglourious Basterds
My Vote: The White Ribbon

I'll be first in line to admit that despite liking The Hurt Locker a lot, I am at a loss to explain how The Hurt Locker is even nominated let alone a likely victory. Sure, my understanding of the technical nuances of cinematography are no greater than most people's, but I didn't exactly see anything that screamed out amazing, classic, iconic lensing. Hmmm. Was there a single frame in that movie that was as evocative an image as the stunning images of The White Ribbon or as instantly iconic as almost any shot for Melanie Laurant in Bastards, or as craft boundary pushing as Avatar?

BEST ART DIRECTION
Will Win: Avatar
Alternate: Sherlock Holmes
My Vote: Avatar

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Will Win: Coco Avant Chanel
Alternate: The Young Victoria
My Vote: Bright Star

I'm going with Coco because autopilot voters might very well tick the vote for it because "hey, it's about Coco Chanel so there must be good costumes, right?" when they haven't seen any of the contenders (and judging by the grosses for the nominees - Nine is the highest grosser at not even $20mil) I think it's a fair guess to say people will be voting on this category without having seen all the contenders. Having said that, I do fully expect Victoria to win (I just refuse to predict as lazily as the Academy votes) and it will the least surprising victory of the decade (outside of the acting categories).

BEST MAKEUP
Will Win: Star Trek
Alternate: The Young Victoria
My Vote: The Young Victoria

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Will Win: Michael Giacchnino, Up
Alternate: Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr Fox
My Vote: Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr Fox

Another autopilot vote. Yawn. Call me when people realise that Up is derivative of all over Pixar titles and isn't fit to shine the (Louis Vuitton) shoes of Fantastic Mr Fox. That goes for the score. Giacchino should've won for Ratatouille and should've been nominated this year for Star Trek. They got it all backwards! He's like the Dion Beebe of Original Score.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Will Win: "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)", Crazy Heart
Alternate: "Take it All", Nine
My Vote: "Take it All", Nine

For shame Adam Shankman. A year that could have delivered instantly memorable original song performances - Marion Cotillard, Jeff Bridges/Colin Farrel, Anika Noni Rose!!! - and the performances are scrapped. But as long as Taylor Lautner gets his ugly mug on the screen, I guess that's okay. /sarcasm.

BEST SOUND MIXING
Will Win: Avatar
Alternate: The Hurt Locker
My Vote: Avatar

BEST SOUND EDITING
Will Win: Avatar
Alternate: The Hurt Locker
My Vote: Avatar

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Will Win: Avatar
Alternate: Hah Dee, meet Hah Hah.
My Vote: Avatar

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Will Win: Up
Alternate: Fantastic Mr Fox
My Vote: Fantastic Mr Fox

Fox is singular and one-of-a-kind. Up is not.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Will Win: A Prophet
Alternate: The Secret in Their Eyes

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Will Win: The Cove
Alternate: Which Way Home

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Will Win: China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Suchian Provence
Alternate: The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Will Win: Logorama
Alternate: French Roast

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Will Win: Istället för abrakadabra
Alternate: Miracle Fish

Et voila! Wasn't that fun?

*Perhaps, perhaps not.
^Perhaps, perhaps not.
**Most likely, yes.