Friday, January 25, 2008

Tom Cruise / Scientology pwned!

If you haven't seen the scariest video in the world yet, look here:

(mind you, he's sincere. This is no bullshit (on his part, at least).

Have you watched it? OK. Now watch this video by Jerry O'Connell. He is godhead for doing this.

You're welcome for giving you the best laugh you've had all week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Oscar Nominations are out!

The nominations for this years' Academy Awards have been announced. Here're my thoughts:

Performance by an actor in a leading role:
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises"

Geez. I'm going to have to go with Daniel Day-Lewis on this one. His crazed oil baron was, admittedly, mesmerizing. Johnny Depp will be passed over again, I'm afraid. Good as he is, actors in musicals are notoriously passed over. George, Tommy and Viggo: This just ain't your year, guys. Sorry.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men"
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild"
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton"

This one is extremely tough, since there are two performances here which, I feel, deserve the statuette. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was an absolute god in "Charlie Wilson's War", delivering one of the most dead on hilarious performances in recent film history. He did, however, recently win for "Capote". That, coupled with the fact that Javier Bardem gave the performance of the decade in "No Country For Old Men" as a true incarnation of evil leads me to believe that Javier Bardem will steal away that statuette. Everyone else in that category, please stay home.

Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie in "Away from Her"
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney in "The Savages"
Ellen Page in "Juno"

A tough one. Let's get Ellen Page out of the way right now. She simply doesn't deserve it for "Juno". The movie itself was average at best and her performance was standard. She basically did what Thora Birch already did, and did better, but is now too old to do. If Thora didn't deserve an Oscar for "Ghost World" (and she did), then Ellen Page doesn't deserve one for "Juno". Cate Blanchett is tempting, but I don't know if anyone wants to reward yet another actress for playing Elizabeth and she's nominated in another, more likely, category. Julie Christie? Maybe, but it seems the Academy is getting a little hardened on rewarding senior actors for their present work. I know nothing about Marion Cotillard, so I'll say Laura Linney will take the statuette for "The Savages". She's a great, deserving actress and, well, she held her own against the genius of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. 'Nuff said.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement"
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton"

I'm going with Cate Blanchett, here. There's a thing within the Academy where they seem to love actors that perform in biopics about pop culture icons. Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan? A shoe in.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):

"Falling Slowly" from "Once" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and: Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" (Warner Bros.): Nominees to be determined
"So Close" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Three songs from a Disney movie will probably cancel each other out. That's pure overkill. "August Rush"? Not familiar with it and they don't know who to attribute the song to? Hmmmm. I'm going with "Falling Slowly" from "Once". The song is gorgeous and it deserves every accolade it gets. It's also the sole reason I hope the Awards are televised this year. I'm dying to see Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform it live.

Achievement in directing

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight), Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson

Fie on the Academy for nominating "Juno". It's not a good film. Sorry. It's not. Are we paying penance for not nominating "Napoleon Dynamite", academy? "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" has not a shot in hell. "Michael Clayton" may be a great film, but it's going to be soooooo overshadowed by the the showdown of the towering monsters that are "No Country For Old Man" and "There Will Be Blood". It's tempting to pick "There Will Be Blood" just to see the Son Of Ghoulardi win an Oscar, but I don't think that's going to happen. This is Joel and Ethan Cohen's Year. "No Country For Old Men" is going to take it and take it all.

Best motion picture of the year:
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight) A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

"Atonement", "Juno" and "Michael Clayton" can leave now. "There Will Be Blood", you did us proud. Don't forget the gift bag on the way out. Congratulations, "No Country For Old Men". This is the film of the year, hands down. Anything less is a travesty.

So, there are my pics for the Big 7. I'll update my picks after the Oscar ceremonies.

Monday, January 21, 2008

New CJ7 trailer!

This movie is going to simply rock!

Forget that the trailer below has narration in English while the dialogue is in Chinese without English subs, the visuals are all you need right now. It looks like a cross between Gremlins and Kung Fu Hustle. Enjoy!

I previously put the teaser trailer here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"ONCE" ...I saw a beautiful film.

"Once" is simply a brilliant film. It's a giddy pleasure and I'm absolutely remiss that I didn't see it in the theatre when the getting was good. I had heard so many good things about this film that I had fallen into cynical film guy mode, so i missed it. Had I seen it during it's theatrical run, I would have been absolute jelly by the end. In public, that would not have been good. In the privacy of my living room, however, it's perfectly okay to grin wide from ear to ear and clutch at my chest when I'm either beaming or my heart is breaking.

"Once" is the first film I've seen that completely reinvents the movie musical successfully. Making it a love story set in Ireland between a street musician and a classical pianist makes perfect sense. They never sing for unbelievable reasons. They sing each other their songs and the songs somehow double for their emotions in the moment. There are no production numbers. Everything is organic that can be.

The film stars Glen Hansard, a street musician that daylights for his father in a Hoover repair shop. He's perfect in this role. The first time looking at him made me think, "This guy looks like Harry Nilsson", then I thought, "He REALLY looks like the guitarist from "The Commitments"... which, it turns out, he is. Now, "The Commitments" is an all time favorite of mine so it was great to see this actor back again. He meets this Girl played by Markéta Irglová. She is a Czech girl living with her young child and mother who works odd jobs to make ends meet. When they meet, it's obvious they are extremely attracted to each other and it's adorable. The thing is, like so much in life, life itself gets in the way of them coming together (he has an ex that he can't get over, she has a child and estranged husband) and the only way they really come together is through the guy's music. She becomes his muse and he becomes the person she needs to forget about herself.

This film is so incredibly sweet and life affirming that it's disarming. Every other scene, I half expected something dark and sinister to happen to them but I was relieved that the film pulled no punches of that sort.

It's out on video now, so you need to go and see it as soon as possible. It's wonderful.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Steven Chow's "CJ7"

A quick one.

Here's the preview for the new Steven Chow movie, "CJ7". Looks great; A nice departure from "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Shaolin Soccer"

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It takes two to SKIDOO!

So Skidoo came and went on TCM at 2:00am. It was a bit of an event, to say the least. Many of the more hip Internet blogs (even Boing Boing!) have been making this American broadcast something of a legendary landmark. So, for this landmark presentation, let's go down through the scorecard:

It was uncut and unedited. It was also the same exact transfer from the late nineties / early 2000's (with modern opening Paramount logo) that showed up on Australian TV a few years back (and became the source of many, many bootlegs). Luckily, it was on TCM, so there weren't any commercial breaks with fake fade outs or exit music like on the Australian broadcast. It was the original MONO soundtrack and, most unfortunate, pan & scan. This is a film that was shot in 2.35:1 Panavision and it's always been woefully cramped on television. It's a shame that TCM, which normally prides itself on presenting films in their original aspect ratio, didn't go the extra mile to hit Paramount up for a new transfer.

So, in short, it was wonderful to see this on Television finally after all these years but it puzzles me that it would be presented so lazily.

UPDATE 01-08-08!! Here's the magnificent trailer for Skidoo featuring celebrities not even in the film!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Movie Reviews

I saw a few films this past week and I'd like to offer my opinions on them.

I Am Legend

I really had no expectations going into this one. I loved "The Last Man On Earth" with Vincent Price and I really had no love for the Charelton Heston' vehicle, "The Omega Man", so I simply didn't care either way. What I came away with was an extremely well done, superior remake of "The Omega Man" that failed miserably when compared to the original novel and the Price version. Still, for what it is (and for the first two thirds of the movie) it's impressive. It isn't until the last third, when other characters are introduced, that the wheels fall completely off. Also, the intelligent vampires of the original novel are replaced by above average intelligence zombies. The ending is also changed to a more upbeat ending that completely changes the meaning of the title. Will Smith does his best and he's fine, but he's upstaged by a dog that surely deserves an Oscar Nomination. OK, I'm kidding, but the dog was good.

No Country For Old Men

I've been electrified. The Cohen Brothers have done it once again. Josh Brolin turns in another amazing performance. God, I could go on forever in simple sentences. "No Country For Old Men" is one of the best films I've seen in a long time. It's blackly comic, incredibly tense and ultimately nihilistic. It feels like a distant cousin to Sam Raimi's "A Simple Plan", another brilliant country set films about the price of greed. Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson turn in solid performances, but it's Javier Bardem that turns in the performance of the entire year as a cold, calculating serial killer that riveted me to my seat. The ending might have let some people down, but suited me fine.

Charlie Wilson's War

The movie has no real ending to speak of and Julia Roberts is just about horrible here, but Tom Hanks and, especially, Phillip Seymour Hoffman pull stellar turns in this comic docudrama. I would love to see these two paired up in a more substantial film since their chemistry is undeniable. The plot, which involves a single man's efforts to get weapons to the Afghanistan refugees for battle with the Soviet army in the 1980's is interesting, but much of the dialogue is delivered so quickly. It's like the majority of the cast is trying to get the words out before the audience realises the actors have no idea what the words mean. Seriously, does anyone in Texas talk that fast?

There are great touches; Charlie's secretaries (4 of them!) who he dubs "jail bait" are fun to see interacting with each other and hearing real life names that are just as relevant now being dropped is a little scary, but overall, the film is a little too light and the non existent ending feels rushed at 90 minutes. It is, however, a lovely diversion.

See it for Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He's nothing short of astounding here.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

What the fuck? Seriously. John C. Reilly is fine, as is Jenna Fischer, and the soundtrack is unassailable, but the movie is unfunny. It's more than unfunny, actually. It's insulting and unfunny. Watching this movie, you'd think there have been only two music biopics ever made, "Walk The Line" and "Ray". I chuckled a total of 4 times (the Bob Dylan parody, the disco "Star Man" cover, the Television Interview and the Temptations joke) and never actually laughed once. There is no real sense of creativity here. It's simply a string of one joke sequences that are made up of recreating sequences from rock documentaries with "knowing" dialogue thrown in so you know we're supposed to know it's funny. I kept waiting for a laugh track to further the point home.

The much hyped Beatles sequence is totally unfunny and forced and the entirety of the film seems to by written by and aimed at people who think they're Pop music experts because they watch VH1 Classic. I knew I was in real trouble when The Monkees were mentioned and everybody laughed hard.

HA! HA! He said he thought the Beatles were better than the Monkees! Get it? The Monkees weren't a real band!!! HA! HA!

Bite me.

Buy the great soundtrack and avoid this unbelievable waste of time.