Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Ides of March

My kick-off week to Oscar season continued by seeing the Clooney/Gosling political drama this Sunday afternoon. Anyone who knows me would probably have thought that I would have rushed to see this movie when it came out the first week of October because of the subject matter, the actors and the related Oscar possibilities. I was surprised at my lack of motivation to see the Ides of March but that did not get me to the theater. I am glad that Katy and I were talking about how attractive Ryan Gosling is and pondered why we had not see it yet last night.

Clooney directed a thoroughly well written film. The trailers were skillfully crafted to lead the audience in one direction. I honestly had no predictions for what was going to happen or how the movie would end. There is also an excellent score and randomly Leonardo DiCaprio was an executive producer.

Thus far the rumored Oscar movies are still very much a part of early buzz; how the nominations will fall is not yet predictable. This usually prevents me from starting too early but for whatever serendipitous reason I have already seen a few. I aim to start earlier each year and do something new. Maybe seeing more movies sooner is my way of doing both this year.

Happy 31st birthday weekend to Mr Gosling. Man can wear a coat like no other.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best Animated Feature 2012

So the list for consideration is already in for the Best Animated Feature category. There are 18 films, which means that the category will have five nominated films. This is somewhat surprising considering that the top contenders are the Smurfs, Tintin and Rango. No Pixar? Oh yeah, they are on the list but it is for the sequel Cars 2.

Alois Nebel
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Gnomeo & Juliet
Happy Feet Two
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
Kung Fu Panda 2
Mars Needs Moms
Puss in Boots
Winnie the Pooh

my source:

Billy Crystal hosting the 84th Annual Academy Awards

Fan-freakin-tastic. Best news yet. What a week in Oscar headlines.
Laura said it first during last year's telecast "bring back Billy Crystal." I agreed wholeheartedly. Then he appeared as if by magic to present. We have continued to say that he should host again. When Eddie Murphy was announced, it was interesting. When Murphy stepped down after the producer Brett Radner resigned, I was very curious about who would host. Laura teased me that Regis would be hosting via facebook today. When I was working out I realized that we should start some internet requests ala Betty White hosting SNL to get Billy Crystal the mc spot at the 2012 Oscar show. Well NO NEED. Yes. So. Excellent.
Here's some proof of the good news (not like the buzz for Regis): -- the current homepage features this quote "Some of the best moments of my career have happened on the Oscar stage. I am thrilled to be back there." -- Billy Crystal -- the official press release announcing Billy Crystal as the host.
And I am now following him on twitter.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

J Edgar

To quote Cup from earlier in the day of Monday's screening of J Edgar, "Who is his agent?" Leonardo DiCaprio only does high caliber work. Only Oscar bait with acclaimed directors (in the bio pic genre see also Scorsese's The Aviator and Leo's Howard Hughes). My response was, can you imagine what would happen if he did a rom com?! Everyone would lose their minds.

Even if I had not known ahead of time that Clint Eastwood was the director, after the first two notes of the title credits played over the WB studio logo I knew from the score. The movie has Eastwood's consistent quality with excellent storytelling and direction. The costumes, make-up and set design are very well executed and are a necessity for this type of movie.

Bio pics, are tricky. The history major in me wants to start Googling immediately to verify information. I have to force myself to stay focused on watching the movie. In J Edgar, multiple eras are shown and the film details Hoover's life from 1919 until his death in 1972. All these different times in US History certainly make me think of AM studies movie reviews. My all-time favorite school assignment from my favorite class and teacher in high school. J Edgar would end up being an option for multiple units.
I was eager to see Leo's Hoover interact with Nixon. Wow, the paranoia there. No shock, according to the movie they were on each other's lists. Though Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger was not critically acclaimed nor did it score major box office, I rooted for Johnny much more than I did for Leo as Hoover. There were at least three scenes that were depicted in both films. It almost lends credibility to both projects. Maybe both just reinforce mythology and misinformation. I have not finished my Googling.

My take away was that Hoover was a very sad, pathetic man, paralysed and motivated by fear. He certainly built the FBI into the modern institution that it is today. Hoover relentlessly lobbied for the centralization of finger printing. The movie also hints that modern counter terrorism tactics had their start with Hoover. Regarding his personal life, I couldn't help but wonder about how the stereotypical things we've all heard about J Edgar Hoover end up in the movie. Was the movie accurate, what sort of evidence to those details being true exists or how watered-downed was the portrayal? An Armie Hammer-Leo hook up, not to be found. I won't be specific about what is in the film, but I was disappointed.

When I saw written by Dustin Lance Black in the end credits I knew instantly that he won an Oscar three ceremonies ago and I was in a full fledged Oscar flashback to 2009: I could remember that Hugh Jackman hosted. Laura's cake was the clock in Benjamin Button (and she was pregnant -- much like she will be this year). Kelva, Cup, Emily, my mom, Kate, Anne, Marla, Kim, Tina and Jerre were also in attendance. Unfortunately I did have to resort to imdb to recall what movie Dustin Lance Black won his Best Original Screenplay Oscar for -- Milk. Interestingly enough, another bio pic with political and gay issues. Seeing J Edgar before the release date already felt a bit like an official beginning to my Oscar season. All the Oscar trivia and memories that came to mind and then the announcements of the change in producers of the telecast this week cemented it. The last movie I reviewed was Tower Heist. It was directed by Brett Ratner who was going to produce the Oscars in 2012 and starred Eddie Murphy who was going to host. Both have since resigned and the show is without a host. Ratner resigned after using a gay slur and speaking about his own sex life. Brian Grazer is the new producer of the show and he produced J Edgar with Eastwood and Ron Howard. Very interesting indeed.

Jeffery Donovan was a great Robert Kennedy. Certainly no characterture or impression. Christopher Shyer who portrayed Nixon was also impression free, more so than I would even say the Nixon in Nixon/Frost -- also Oscar season in 2009. Donovan's work on Burn Notice does showcase his ability to master all accents and styles. Donovan must be an Eastwood go to supporting player as he was also the dislikable detective in Changeling. Another film that was part of 2009's Oscar season.

Public Enemies with Johnny Depp was released in 2009 but did not have any Oscar nods in 2010. Someday Leo and Johnny will get their Oscars. It will be interesting to see what role J Edgar has in this year's Oscar race.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tower Heist

This comedy with Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe and Eddie Murphy is good popcorn fair, good for some laughs.
I like much of the cast and that usually leads to built in positive feedback. I have read that the director intentionally included actors with strong dramatic chops to ground the comedy and did not go for jokes but rather strong characters. The reviews that I have seen and heard by critics have all commented that Eddie Murphy does not show up soon enough, that there is not enough of him in the movie, and that it is his big return to what he does best. I agree that it is great to be entertained by Eddie Murphy in a classic Eddie Murphy way. That said, he is in the first scene of the movie. It may be the very fact that he is not in every scene that leaves one wanting more. If he were in the movie more, maybe it would not have been such a triumphant return for Murphy. I am much less confused by the announcement that he is hosting the Oscars now, that is forsure.

I saw the movie with Katy and she was no longer able to suspend her disbelief a few scenes before me. There came a point when I too was taken out of the movie because I could no longer shrug it off as believable. That said, there were lots of laughs, it is topical to our times and very entertaining. The point of a fall matinee pre-Oscar season, right? That said, up next, J Edgar on Monday courtesy of another screening pass the lovely Miss Ficker has obtained.

Movie Night 11/4/11 Something Borrowed

If asked if I would rewatch Something Borrowed before Friday I believe my answer would have been an overconfident no. Well it was the movie selection at this week's movie night.

Primed by my non-endorsement of the movie I am confident that the other members of the movie night crew enjoyed it much more. Hearing what someone else thinks about a movie before watching it can shift your expectations. We even discussed how someone saying that they do not like a movie, can make you want to like it. I also enjoyed my second viewing much more than my first. Like my first, Kate Hudson and John Krasinski are the best parts of the flick.

I am also intrigued by discussions I have had with two friends who have read the book the movie is based on. It is actually a series of books. On that note, be sure to watch the entire credits if you watch Something Borrowed.