Monthly Archives: January 2013

Five to rewind

My sister recently asked me what five movies I would take with me if I were stranded on an island for the rest of my life.
I would have clothes and other necessities, but only five movies. I could only stare at Carla in dismay and said I would have to think about it. This is a tough life question for me and one that is easier to work out in written form.
I just like too many movies and appreciate at least something about all the other ones. I’ve written about what I would watch if the world were to end and my picks for a weekend here and there, but never only five titles to see over and over.
It makes sense to pick films that mark memories and traditions in my life and bring more joy than living on a sunny island. Here we go, in no particular order:

5. “The Royal Tenenbaums
This is my favorite Wes Anderson film so much that I have been searching for the perfect Margot Tenenbaum Halloween costume two years in a row. Hopefully I will accomplish that before I am whisked away to an island, but when I am there I will always been in the mood for regular visits with the Tenenbaums.

4. “You’ve Got Mail”
I know, I know, but I’ve secretly always liked this movie. It’s cheesy, predictable and it makes me happy.
I know there are other classic romances that are better and more worth hanging on to for the rest of my life, but this is the era of the rom com, embrace it. I have a soft spot for many titles on the rom com cheese wheel, but my choice for eternity is the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan pseudo sequel to “Sleepless in Seattle.”

The monkeys on this island don’t judge, right?
3. “A Christmas Story” (Did you know the house from the movie is now a museum? I need to go.)
I’ve always liked watching this on Christmas Eve and only on Christmas Eve. This is one to remind me of my childhood and winter, which hopefully will never happen on the island. I like four seasons of weather, but would much rather have to watch a movie from the winter times on repeat than commute in the snow. Just sayin’. 
2. “Fletch”
This is what I consider a classic. Chevy Chase, Gummy, Sammy, Larry, Provo, Dr. Rosen Rosen, I love it all! “Fletch” is on my end of the world list as well. I have yet to accomplish memorizing all the lines in the movie, so I have to take it to the island. Hopefully my cat can make the trip too. 
1. “Good Will Hunting.”
Oh my, this is really my last choice? Can’t I throw in “Lost in Translation,” “The Labyrinth” and the eye candy in “Magic Mike?”
I chose “Good Will Hunting” because it is one of the many titles I associate with why I love film and I am okay with watching it over and over.
This choice probably sounds silly and insignificant among all the other accomplishments in film, but I’ve admired and respected Matt Damon’s career from the beginning.
This is my list and I am sticking to it. Now, when I actually have the time, I am going to watch “Good Will Hunting” again.
See you on the beach bitches!

The Oscars: Noms and snubs and what I need to see, like now

I’ve had my coffee and just spent an extensive amount of time this morning reading about Leonardo DiCaprio online.

Fans of his surely haven’t been able to get out of bed since Thursday’s Oscar nominations were announced and Leo wasn’t named for his performance in “Django Unchained.”
I am not necessarily upset about the nominees in the best supporting actor category, and I can’t judge Tommy Lee Jones or Philip Seymour Hoffman because I haven’t seen their films yet. But DiCaprio was FLAWLESS as Calvin Candie.
I loved most everything about Quentin Tarantino’s latest baby, but the more I think about it Leo’s performance is the best.
“Django Unchained” did get nominated for best picture, Tarantino is in the mix for writing and Christoph Waltz made the cut for best supporting actor.
There is an extra burn for poor poor Leo. Waltz did great and is deserving, but could he have ousted his costar? Awkward.
At least DiCaprio’s performance is recognized in other award circles. He received a best supporting actor win from the National Board of Review and Golden Globe nomination, but the Django snub at the Oscars is pretty shocking.
It could be his best role yet and on top of that DiCaprio has a really strong filmography since he started out as an actor.

The Chicago Film Critics Association named Leo the most promising actor after his performance in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” in 1993. He also earned an Oscar nomination for that film, “Blood Diamond,” and “The Aviator.”
On one hand the Oscars could be considered an over-hyped popularity contest, but it’s the culmination of award season and it really doesn’t make sense that an actor like Leo can make it through all the other levels only to be cast out at the end.
I didn’t see “J. Edgar” but I did catch the look in Leo’s baby blues when he lost out at the Golden Globes to George Clooney last year.
Then he got snubbed at the Oscars for that role too. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take it if he doesn’t get what he deserves at the Golden Globes tomorrow.
What does the man have to do to be recognized by the Academy for some of his best roles? He’s consistently worked with top actors and directors, including Martin Scorsese on several occasions.
Come on, he even walked Kate Winslet down the aisle at her wedding! He’s got a save the world-type foundation and you never really hear much drama about his life. 
Whatever, “Academy,” Leo is better than you. 
There is no good transition to get into the other Oscar nominations here, so I’ll just move on from my rant. 
I have quite a few of the best pictures to see, but I can do it. To be honest I am not as excited about crossing the titles off my list as I was last year, but “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty” are intriguing to me. 
I saw “Argo,” which cleaned up at the Critic’s Choice Awards as the best picture and with a best director nod to Ben Affleck. We’ll see what happens at the Globes, but the film is a contender now.
I have “Beasts of a Southern Wild” on DVD to watch and then just need to get through “Amour,” “Life of Pi,” and “Les Miserables.”
It is nice the nominations are out earlier this year so I can keep on task with my list and have more time before the big show.
Comparing the Golden Globes best picture musical/comedy and drama nominees to the Oscars, “Moonrise Kingdom,”  “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” did not make the final cut. 
I saw Wes Anderson’s picture of course, but not the other two. It would be nice to see that more on the Oscar list, at least for some of the performances. The writing by Anderson and Roman Coppola did get a nod though. 
I admit this is getting really long, but I just find the dynamics of what makes films and actors qualify to be “award winning” very interesting and nonsensical at times.
In the end (ignoring my entire rant about Leo’s snub), I hope the award for people behind and in front of the camera is in the form of expression film can be. I have always admired filmmakers for being able to put their individual stamp on documenting true events and history, coming up with something completely from their imagination or bringing a favorite book to life.
That’s all, thanks for reading, I need to go watch something now.

"Django Unchained"

The news of the day is the Oscar nominations will be released Thursday and “Texas Chainsaw 3D” beat “Django Unchained” to be No. 1 at the box office last weekend.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was coming down from having just seen Quentin Tarantino’s film when I heard the news.
I’m over it now and just want to talk about Django!
Tarantino fans won’t have trouble liking something, if not everything, about the film. The cast, acting, music, effects and length are all epic.
I knew the film would be a long one before watching, but that didn’t impact my viewing experience.
Where to begin?
Jamie Foxx is Django (Tarantino reportedly wanted to cast Will Smith), a slave freed by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) about two years before the Civil War.
Schultz is a dentist (bounty hunter) looking for three men who only Django knows and can help him find. The two start a journey across the south to find the men and ultimately save Django’s wife Broomhilda from slavery.
Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) is found at the plantation of evil and slightly flamboyant Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The web of characters and stories Tarantino pulled together, even though he used nearly three hours, is impressive to me.
It’s consistent with his style, which is why fans will be on board, but I don’t know how new audiences are going to take to the film.
I recommend it, of course, as long as people have an open mind and can see the big picture.
Everyone in the theater may be laughing at one minute and covering their eyes during the violent scenes the next.
Tarantino has a knack for all things gore (“Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” “Pulp Fiction,” etc.) while being able to show the true emotion and evil that leads to the most hurtful violence caused by his characters.
He’s also big on revenge, which Django is seeking the most and on many levels.
Basically, be prepared for so much blood splatter and bodies that it’s not even realistic and an equal mix of scenes portraying true fear caused by the rivalry in the south.
One criticism I heard about the film is, like “Inglourious Basterds,” it should have ended earlier and perhaps in a different way.
Tarantino tricks the viewer into thinking the film is over at least once. Maybe I am in the he-can-do-no-wrong fan club, but I didn’t mind the trickery, or the ending.
It doesn’t end well for some, but there is a bit of light at the conclusion to help the viewer erase some of the darker moments.
Tarantino, like Wes Anderson, is a true individual in what he creates and I appreciate that the most.
He also brings out the best in his actors, which reminds me I need to mention Samuel L. Jackson’s brilliant performance.
Leonardo takes the (white) cake as Calvin Candie and Foxx certainly excels as Django. I wonder about Will Smith, or anyone else, in that lead role. As the critics said on Slate’s Spoiler Specials (you can find the podcast on iTunes), Django would have been a different movie without Foxx or any of the chosen actors.
I just hope there is more from Tarantino and he continues to cast his favorites and newcomers.

“Gentlemen, you had my curiosity. But now, you have my attention.”

"Pitch Perfect" and "Ted"

I went a little cable crazy these last few days. For the record, the next movie I’ll see in theaters will still be “Django Unchained” or maybe “Lincoln,” but what’s a girl with some time off work to do in the meantime?
I chose “Pitch Perfect,” based on a Kay Cannon interview on Hollywood Prospectus, and then “Ted” based on some recommendations from my peeps.
Cannon, of “30 Rock” and “New Girl” fame, wrote the a cappella college chick flick starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Brittany Snow.

Kendrick plays Beca, a beautiful and talented college freshman who can’t quite fit in on campus. Enter Snow (Chloe) and Anna Camp (Aubrey) as the leaders of The Bellas, an a cappella group seeking to reboot and win nationals. I won’t ruin the reason why The Bellas need another chance, but Doug Benson says it’s not for people with emetophobia.
Other than those scenes, I will say “Pitch Perfect” is pretty cliche. Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan lauded the film for Anna Kendrick’s performance and the music choices – but couldn’t get over the fact that they are performed a cappella. I can agree with the Hollywood Prospectus hosts there and, considering the overused references to “The Breakfast Club,” the film fell flat for me. Cannon did produce a witty script from Mickey Rapkin’s book, also favored by Greenwald and Ryan, but it just wasn’t enough.
So if you’re looking for more of a sure thing appealing to men and women alike (I kind of can’t believe I am saying this), try “Ted.”
I wasn’t skeptical of this film, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, because who could really stop and think that much about a story focused on a talking teddy bear?
In the end I liked it and even found myself laughing out loud during a few scenes.
Wahlberg plays John, a man/boy hanging on to his childhood toy he wished one day would become his best friend. But the toy Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), gets in the way of John having an adult life and hanging on to his girlfriend Lori (Kunis).
Part of the appeal of “Ted” is it’s so silly, it’s funny and the strong cast (Giovanni Ribisi and Joel McHale with in supporting roles) helps too.
I do like films that make you think and to analyze, but sometimes you need to take things at face value and remember they’re about entertainment too.

“Thunder buddies for life!”