Viewing blog entries in category: Film - Page 2
These are the latest and greatest kibbles and bits that I am devouring at the moment...
The Big Bang Theory
I just started watching this hilarious television show. Right now I am a third of the way through season two. Yes, I have indulged in another series binge watch. Towards the end of season one, I began to wonder if this show could continue to be interesting. Sheldon's character seemed to have the potential of becoming redundant. But I took a day off from watching. And my interest has been renewed. This is a really clever, intelligent show. The characters are endearing and the writing is top notch. I'm sticking with it. Season six has just begun. I hope to get caught up to this moving train asap.
Fifty Shades of Grey - The Film
The screenwriter for the upcoming film has been announced. And casting suggestions are still pouring in--something that surely will continue until the official cast is announced. I stumbled upon this article today. I think it does a thorough job of breaking down the picks and highlighting the pros and cons for each. Remember my casting picks?
How Music Works by David Byrne
I just started reading this eBook. I am a fan of The Talking Heads. But one need not be to enjoy Byrne's mostly non-autobiographical tour of the world of music. Byrne meticulously pulls back the curtain for us non-musicians and gives us an insider's look into the underpinnings of the music world. So far, I have learned a great deal about how the environment shapes the type of music that is created. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this book.
Entertainment at its finest? Perhaps not, but it's stimulating enough to keep me coming back. I like the people who post here. They are a diverse group. This diversity is what makes it an interesting place to visit and interact. I like that there are sensitive, Moz-obsessed vegans as well as extroverted, witty intellectuals. There's room for everyone.
Hey guys. To celebrate my acquisition of a newer model Kindle, I have created a second follow-up book titled realitybites back. Pretty clever name eh? This eBook is a collection of my blog writings over the last year and a half.
Anyhow, I am giving it away for free in PDF format. It has images and links. You can read it on your PC or reading device. Looks great on my new Kindle--old model did not support PDF's very well. To download book, click HERE. File was too large to attach here. So it is downloadable from my online storage Box.
Also you can read the book right out of the Box. Haha.
Lastly, don't be afraid to download the book. It won't bite. And I have no way of knowing who downloaded it or where from. Box is a free online service and I am not privy to any of those transactions/functions. The only thing I get is an email at the end of the day with a generic summary saying someone viewed, or, two people downloaded etc. So feel free and safe to download or read online. Or not.
Cinemagraphs are still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs. Cinemagraphs, which are usually published in an animated GIF format, can give the illusion that the viewer is watching a video.
They are commonly produced by taking a series of photographs or a video recording, and, using image editing software, compositing the photographs or the video frames into a seamless loop of sequential frames, often using the animated GIF file format in such a manner that motion in part of the subject between exposures (for example, a person's dangling leg) is perceived as a repeating or continued motion, in contrast with the stillness of the rest of the image.
The term "cinemagraph" was coined by U.S. photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who used the technique to animate their fashion and news photographs beginning in early 2011. Source
I found these amazing Cinemapgraphs at a blog titled If We Don't, Remember Me.
These are ten of my favorites. All are from film scenes.
The Silence of The Lambs (1991)
American Psycho (2000)
8 1/2 (1963)
Straw Dogs (1971)
The Shining (1980)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Take This Waltz, Sarah Polly, 2012
We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay, 2011
Winter's Bone, Debra Granik, 2010
Morven Callar, Lynne Ramsay, 2002
The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow, 2008
The Kids Are Alright, Lisa Cholodenko,
Harlan County, U.S.A., Barbara Kopple, 1976
American Psycho, Mary Harron, 2000
Marie Antoinette, Sophia Coppola, 2006
The Piano, Jane Champion, 1993
Grey Gardens, Albert and David Maysles, 1976
Albert and David Maysles, pioneers in the cinéma vérité movement of documentary filmmaking, chose for their subjects of this film a mother and daughter with celebrity connections. Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Edie (or, as they are called by the brothers, Big Edie and Little Edie), are aunt and cousin to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In the early '70s, their 28-room mansion in Long Island's tony community of East Hampton was found to be a health hazard, and the two women, in their seventies and fifties, were threatened with eviction. Jacqueline Onassis paid for the house to be put in good order, and two years later, the Maysles paid the ladies a series of follow-up visits. This is not fly-on-the-wall filmmaking; the brothers are sometimes shown on-camera, and both women talk directly to them.
Gates of Heaven, Errol Morris, 1978
Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris' debut immediately attracted acclaim for its straight-faced treatment of a subject practically begging for ridicule. When the Foothill Memorial Gardens pet cemetery, located north of San Francisco, closed (its land was sold for a housing project), the 450 animals interred there had to be moved to Bubbling Well Memorial Park in nearby Napa. Morris saw the transfer as an opportunity to explore the world of pet owners who are so devoted that they see nothing wrong with giving their animals a full dose of the last rites. His simple technique was to film his subjects, usually seated, talking about their loved ones, alternating with shots of the two cemeteries and the move. Critic Roger Ebert became an early champion of the film, and Morris' struggles to finish it resulted in a very amusing short film, Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. The German filmmaker had bet Morris that he would never complete the film, and when he did, Herzog publicly boiled and consumed one of his shoes for the camera of director Les Blank.
Harlan County, U.S.A., Barbara Kopple, 1976
Director Barbara Kopple's look at a 13-month coal miners' strike that took place between 1973 and 1974 in Harlan County, KY, is one of the great films about labor troubles, though not for a sense of objectivity. Kopple lived among the miners and their families off and on during the four years the entire story played out, and it's clear in every frame of the film that her sympathies lie with the miners and not their bosses at Eastover Mining, owned by Duke Power Company. Kopple's camera focuses on the desperate plight of people still living in shacks with no indoor plumbing and working dangerous jobs with little security and few safety rules.
Encounters at the End of the World, Werner Herzog, 2007
Werner Herzog, director of such acclaimed documentaries as Grizzly Man and Little Dieter Needs to Fly, offers his unique perspective on the South Pole in this film profiling the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station. Located on Ross Island, McMurdo Station is the headquarters of the National Science Foundation. Whether offering a detailed study of the unique survival training regimen that newcomers to McMurdo are obligated to endure or pondering the majestic beauty of a landscape where the discovery of three new species in a single day is something worth truly celebrating, Herzog boldly offers viewers the opportunity to visit one of the most inaccessible and awe-inspiring landscapes on the planet.
Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog, 2005
Filmmaker Werner Herzog adds another real-life character to his growing pantheon of people who walk a fine line between visionary genius and madness in this documentary. Timothy Treadwell was a self-styled authority on bears who, starting in 1990, would spend as much time as possible each year in Alaska, camping out near a grizzly bear habitat. While Treadwell claimed to love the bears and felt as one with them, he had no formal training in their behavior, and while familiarizing himself with the creatures he would walk within a few feet of them with a video camera in hand. Treadwell shot hundreds of hours of footage of himself and the grizzlies, and Herzog has used this footage as the core of Grizzly Man, a documentary look at Treadwell's life and death, while also including interviews with people who knew him, animal experts, and scientists.
Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy, 2010
Exit Through the Gift Shop marks the feature-film debut of notorious street artist Banksy. The documentary's focus is French-born L.A. thrift-shop owner Thierry Guetta, whose apparent compulsion to videotape every moment of his life led him to document the phenomenon of contemporary street art. Guetta soon hears about the mysterious street artist/prankster Banksy, and becomes obsessed with finding him and videotaping his exploits. Thanks to Guettta's growing reputation among street artists, the two eventually meet and form a sort of partnership.
Lessons of Darkness, Werner Herzog, 1992
Straddling a line between documentary and science fiction, Werner Herzog's Lektionen in Finsternis is an epic visual poem set in the burning oil fields of Kuwait following the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War. Herzog, as much a daredevil as a documentarian, took his small crew in a helicopter and, floating above the fields, photographed jaw-dropping footage of the blazing, blackened landscape. Alternately horrific and majestic, the movie is a phantasmagoric, if distanced, catalog of horrors. Boiling lakes of crude oil, twisted scraps of melted metal, and ominous billows of smoke and fire abound. On the ground, the images are just as otherworldly. His high-flown rhetoric, dense with mythical portent and allusiveness, underscores this visionary movie's detached view of the destruction of the Kuwaiti oil fields.
The Fog of War, Errol Morris, 2003
Former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara is the sole focus of documentarian Errol Morris' The Fog of War, a film that not only analyzes McNamara's controversial decisions during the first half of the Vietnam War, but also his childhood upbringing, his education at Berkeley and Harvard, his involvement in World War II, and his later years as president of the World Bank. Culling footage from almost 20 hours of interviews with the Secretary, Morris details key moments from McNamara's career, including the 1945 bombing of Tokyo, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and President Kennedy's suggestions to the Secretary that the U.S. remove itself from Vietnam. Throughout the film, the 85-year-old McNamara expounds his philosophies on international conflict, and shows regret and pride in equal measure for, respectively, his mistakes and accomplishments.
Stevie, Steve James, 2002
In the early '80s, Steve James was a student at Southern Illinois University who volunteered for the local Big Brother program and served as a mentor for Stephen Dale Fielding (Stevie for short), a troubled 11-year-old boy with unhappy family relationships. After a number of scrapes with the law and on-going battles with his family, Fielding had been charged with molesting his eight-year-old cousin, and he'd opted for a trial (which could lead to a twenty year prison sentence) rather than receive counseling, due in part to his experiences in a mental hospital. James and his wife (who counsels sex offenders) wanted to offer Stevie whatever help they could, and James opted to make a film about him, hoping to discover where Stevie's life and gone wrong and how his tragic turn of fate could have been prevented.
Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme, 1999
Stop Making Sense was the first feature-length documentary effort of filmmaker Jonathan Demme. The director's subject is The Talking Heads, a new-wave/pop-rock group comprised of David Byrne, Chris Franz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison. The film was made during a three-day concert gig at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. What emerges on screen says as much about director Demme's taste and sensitivity as it does about the group and its visionary leader Byrne. Though some of the material in Stop Making Sense overlaps with the Talking Heads' earlier concert film The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, one never gets the feeling of by-the-numbers repetition; the group's energy is such that it virtually explodes from the screen.
All descriptions of documentaries are from the website
I really went on a tirade in my previous blog entry--slamming Sight & Sound's Fifty Greatest Films of all time 2012 list.
But should I really be stirring up a storm if I have not actually seen all the movies in their list? Perhaps I shouldn't. Of course, no one has seen all movies made. And so anyone who has submitted a top ten list is guilty of doing this. For how can one know if a film is worthy or not of being in a top ten list, if one hasn't actually seen the film?
Therefore, I am on a mission to view every single film on S&S's 2012 list. I will start with the top ten, then go from there.
For now, I have listed my top ten films. However, I may end up changing some of my selections. Maybe I shouldn't be making a list at all. I am beginning to doubt my picks. They seem so pedestrian. Could I defend them? Would I lose a debate against a film student who echos the elitist, pretentious film historians who consider their picks to be sacred cows? Those people really get under my skin. I hate snobbery and pomposity. I am more of a spokesperson for the intelligent and imaginative film buff who can appreciate a variation--both high and low brow film, and everything in between.
Anyhow, I plan to view at least the top ten S&S films, and to have a final selection of my Top Ten Films by the end of the year. Check back for updates.
I will post a screenshot for each of the films in my top ten list.
My Ten Greatest Films of all time list:
1.2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, 1968
Memorable moment: Dave kills Hal.
2. 8 1/2, Federico Fellini, 1963
A visual extravaganza! ~ A feast for the eyes!
3. Titanic, James Cameron, 1997
Epic proportions of everything.
4. The Silence of the Lambs, Johnathan Demme, 1991
Characters, sound, mood, suspense!
5. Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich, 2010
6. Volver, Pedro Almodóvar, 2006
Depth, layers, characters, color, drama!
7. Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton, 1990
8. Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky, 2000
Original, dark, engaging.
9. Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino, 1994
It's got everything and more.
10. Some Like It Hot
Billy Wilder, 1959
Jack Lemmon is brilliant!
After I view a film from the S&S list, I will assign it one to four points.
S&S Fifty Greatest Films 2012 List:
1. Vertigo ~ 3.5
2. Citizen Kane ~ 3.5
3. Tokyo Story ~ 3.5
4. La Règle du jeu
5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey ~ 4
7. The Searchers ~ 3.5
8. A Man With a Movie Camera ~ 3
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc ~ 2
10. 8 1/2 ~ 4
11. Battleship Potemkin
14. Apocalypse Now ~ 3.5
15. Late Spring
16. Au hasard Balthazar
17. Seven Samurai
20. Singin’ in the Rain
22. Le Mépris
23. The Godfather ~ 3.5
25. In the Mood for Love
27. Andrei Rublev
28. Mulholland Dr. ~ 3
31. The Godfather Part II ~ 3.5
32. Taxi Driver ~ 4
33. Bicycle Thieves
34. The General
36. Psycho ~ need to view again
37. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
39. The 400 Blows
40. La dolce vita ~ 3.5
41. Journey to Italy
42. Pather Panchali
43. Some Like It Hot ~4
45. Pierrot le fou
46. Play Time
48. The Battle of Algiers
49. Histoire(s) du cinéma
50. City Lights
Sight & Sound has just released its list of the Fifty Greatest Films of all time. Since 1952, it has been producing this list every ten years. For this year's list, "...more than 1,000 critics, programmers, academics, distributors, writers and other cinephiles, and received (in time for the deadline) precisely 846 top-ten lists that between them mention a total of 2,045 different films.
As a qualification of what ‘greatest’ means, our invitation letter stated, 'We leave that open to your interpretation. You might choose the ten films you feel are most important to film history, or the ten that represent the aesthetic pinnacles of achievement, or indeed the ten films that have had the biggest impact on your own view of cinema.' "
Here is the 2012 list.
It sure isn't my list. I judge a movie's greatness by very different criteria than these critics, bloggers, and film industry professionals. Personally, I don't put as much weight on the historical period, camera angles used, lighting, etc. I value a film's originality, great imagery, and the ability to evoke emotion. Clever dialog is a bonus but not necessary. Also, I am a sucker for dark humor or a twisted plot. But I don't like gimmickry or convoluted stories like ones found in Memento and Inception. I like a good narrative. But it doesn't have to be linear.
Requiem for a Dream is a good example of a movie that contains all the components that make a film great, imo.
I just watched Vertigo the other day. The S&S has it as its top film. No way. It is a good film. But I felt nothing after seeing it. Yes the music is great, as is the acting--especially James Stewart. But I could care less about the characters. And I couldn't relate to anything they were experiencing. When I see a movie, I want to feel something--to be transported. I want to leave the theater as a changed person. I want to feel more alive as a result. I need to be moved, shown a new perspective--a new way of knowing. Vertigo, and all other Hitchcock movies are careful constructs--great angles, use of lighting, shadows, music that builds suspense. Its all technical--with no heart. I think Rear Window is a better film than Vertigo. James Stewart's character is actually likable rather than a creepy middle-aged man obsessed with an image.
This list was so obviously composed by a very niche group i.e. white, male, urban, North American/European, industry types. A woman's point of view is sorely lacking, as is an eastern perspective. Oh wait, there's Tokyo Story on the list--a very safe, approachable film made by a director using western technology with a predictable linear plot infused with traditional eastern themes.
A little math: 846 lists were submitted. Vertigo was on the top ten lists of 191 submissions. This means is was NOT on the top ten lists of 655 submissions. I would be one of the 655, I suppose. This actually puts me in the majority group. Also, 2,045 movies were among the top ten lists submitted. This is a huge variation and in no way demonstrates a universal consensus. Roger Ebert points out another flaw in this list, "To make the list, a director is punished if too many of his films are voted for. He needs an "official masterpiece. [otherwise]...the votes become scattered."
Also, there is something wrong when almost half the films on the list were made before 1960 and are in black and white. Seems like the old folks in the ivory tower along with their parroting film students are well represented. Film academia tend to value a film for its shot by shot brilliance. I agree that Vertigo and 8 1/2 are absolutely brilliant in this department. The stills can stand alone as photographs. Each is lit perfectly and suitable for framing. Don't believe me? Watch either on your PC using VLC player. Randomly stop the film and do a screenshot. Then do this again. No matter where the film stops, you are almost guaranteed to get a beautiful screenshot. But movies aren't meant to be watched shot by shot. It is about the work as a whole.
And, is a film's greatness only about sight and sound? I think that the combining of sight and sound does differentiate a film from a book or piece of music. But doesn't a film also need interesting characters, a story, and mood to make it a masterpiece? Isn't it all these things that make a film so transformative and unforgettable? If a film only toys with the eyes and ears but forgets the heart then it has missed the mark.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a masterpiece. Not only is the movie brilliant in its use of sight and sound, it has a story, interesting characters--who can forget the computer Hal?, and creates a mood that is carried throughout the film. And it passes the shot by shot test for greatest, as previously discussed.
(my dream bedroom)
This film is in my top ten list. But I have not devised my own list yet. I will do so in my next blog entry.
The Sight & Sound list is pretentious and elitist. It does not represent the values and tastes of the movie going public. Hey S&S, your list sucks!
**7/21/12 ~ Update at bottom of post...
*7/10/12 ~Update near bottom of post...
Just as the temperatures outside reach their highs, my cultural pursuits hit all-time lows. Can it get any worse than consuming all three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series in less than a week’s time? And if that weren’t enough, to continue the obsession by blogging about the books—twice—as if I hadn’t already spent enough time reading the texts? There was the artwork—the painting of Christian Grey. Then the pondering of the upcoming film—and who should be cast in it. There I was, hunting down photos, reading bios, checking ages, availability… silly me. I think I'm done for now. But I may have a relapse.
But now I really know I’m playing in the lowbrow sandbox because last night I was reading the book Brangelina. This is bad on so many levels. But… the book is actually a page-turner, if you’re into that sort of thing—celebrity gossip, which I am. It’s light, mindless reading. But, there’s a little dirt involved. I like that.
Sinking deeper, I am now watching the first season of Gossip Girl. I’m late to this mean girls party. I'm surprised I was invited at all. It’s Heathers plus Cruel Intentions on steroids. Ouch!
Can it get any worse than this? Maybe. I hear August is even hotter than July.
*7/10/12 Update ~ Finished Brangelina. The brand isn't even mentioned until chapter 17 out of 19. This book reveals nothing that hasn't already been written about in the press. The author is a paparazzi with a pen who suffers from ADD—unable to focus on the subject of the book. He trails off in odd directions, talking about breaking into a mental institution, attending a support group for Sibs—all with the intention of getting answers to Angelina's mysterious behaviors. None of his investigations pay off and it leaves the reader scratching her head as to why he even mentioned his efforts—unless it's all filler—which it certainly is. Don't bother with this one, unless of course you are stranded in some remote location and it is the only thing to read—which we know will never happen.
I'm enjoying the teenage characters on Gossip Girl but could do with out the parents and their arrested development storylines. What demographic are the writers appealing to if I am the parent's age cohort, yet am more interested in the kids? Senior citizens perhaps? Do they watch this show?
Love, love, love Blair Waldorf's bathroom window. Jealous.
Haven't thought about Christian Grey for days. I think he was just a passing fancy. Aren't they all?
*7/10/12 Update ~ Just finished seasons one through five of Gossip Girl. Talk about binge watching! The show definitely has its charms i.e. the setting, the clothing, and the delightfully manipulative, socially ambitious, love-hungry characters.
My faves are Blair Waldorf, Chuck Bass, and Dan Humphrey.
I could do without Serena, Jenny, and Eric. They're all whiny, brainless, and self-absorbed--in an irritating way. Fortunately, two of them are no longer full time cast members. Too bad Serena is still around.
I am going to play casting director and post my picks for who I think should play the characters in the soon to be made film adaptation of the book Fifty Shades of Grey. The list is ongoing and subject to change.
Christian Grey: Alex Pettyfer
Why? He's the hottest young actor out there right now. He has Christian's chiseled, gorgeous face, his lean, muscular bod, his generous height, and his messy hair. Plus he is fairly new on the scene and would be able to devote a few years to the series—unlike a megastar like Ryan Gosling, who otherwise would have been my choice to play Fifty. (If by some miracle Gosling is cast as Christian Grey, my list will need to be revised.) I think with the right effort and attitude (Pettyfer has a diva rep, but, Christian is a bit of a diva himself.) he could pull off Mr. Grey's American accent and mercurial disposition. Pettyfer can currently be seen in the 2012 film Magic Mike.
Anastasia Steele: Lily Collins
Why? She's young, beautiful and can act. Also, she can pull off innocence as well as feistiness. She recently played Snow White in the 2012 film Mirror Mirror.
Mrs. Robinson (Elena Lincoln): Cara Buono
Why? She has the looks of Elena and the acting chops to play this villainous vixen. You may remember her as Dr. Faye Miller from Mad Men.
Kate Kavanagh: Shailene Woodley
Why? Kate is a strong character, thus, a strong actress is needed to fill her shoes. Plus she has Kate's long, beautiful hair and lovely face. You may recall having seen her as Alexandra in The Descendents (2011).
Jose Rodriguez: Diego Boneta
Why? He's not only a hottie, but he is adorable and likable as well—just like Jose. Boneta can currently be seen in the 2012 film Rock of Ages.
Jack Hyde: Samuel Page
Why? He is charming and good looking but also plays evil so well. You may remember him from Desperate Housewives and Mad Men.
Leila: Emily Browning
Why? She has that ethereal thing down pat. Not convinced? Check her out in Sleeping Beauty (2011).
Mia Grey: Ronan Saoirse
Why? She is cute and engaging and is a fine young actress. You may have seen her in Atonement (2007) and Hanna (2011).
Jason Taylor: Channing Tatum
Why? He has the bodyguard bod and rugged good looks of Jason's. Plus he is a charming and talented actor. You can see him strut his stuff in Magic Mike (2012).
Ethan Kavanagh: Chace Crawford
Why? He has Ethan's good looks, charm, and playful personality. Plus the gurrrls love him! You can see him in the television show Gossip Girl.
I can only post up to ten images per entry, so I have provided links to images for the remaining cast picks.
Elliot Grey: Armie Hammer
Why? He's handsome, charming, and a great actor. Plus he can be playful just like Elliot. You may have seen him in Mirror Mirror (2012) and The Social Network (2010).
Carrick Grey: Christian Bale
Why? Why not?! Yes he is a little young to play Christian's father. But Bale is a chameleon. With a little help from the makeup department, he would be perfect. Plus, being that Fifty Shades is a BDSM themed story, a cameo from American Psycho's Bale would be a real treat. I know that his megastar status might keep him from accepting a low paying, supportive role, but here's hoping. You have probably seen him in several films, including Batman Begins (2005.)
Dr. Flynn: Bret Easton Ellis
Why? OK, so he is not an actor. He is, however, obsessed with the Fifty Shades series and has been campaigning on the Internet to get the rights to pen the screenplay for the first film. As the author of American Psycho, he has shown that he is knowledgeable regarding the subject matter. So if he doesn't get to write the screenplay, allowing him to be in the film seems like a cool thing to do. I'm sure an acting coach could do wonders for Ellis.
Dr. Grace Trevelyn-Grey: Tilda Swinton
Why? Did you see the 2011 film We Need to Talk About Kevin? Was she the ultimate mother to a damaged child, or what? Plus she is a brilliant actress and could pull off any role, I'm certain.
Gail Jones: Christina Hendricks
Why? She can play nurturing and sexy equally. Remember, Gail is the love interest of Jason Taylor, so the actress playing this role needs to be attractive. Christina is that! You can see her in Mad Men.
Mr. Rodriguez: Antonio Banderas
Why? He would be great as the elder Rodriguez. He is handsome, charming, and can act. Did you see him in the 2011 film The Skin I live in?
Carla May Wilks (Ana's Mother): Diane Lane
Why? She is a likable, versatile, and seasoned actress. She can be seen in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) and the upcoming film Man of Steel (2013). (Mom of Steele, haha.)
Raymond Steele: John Cusack
Why? Oh, wouldn't you love to see him onscreen again in a lovable role? Remember him in Say Anything (1989)?
Scroll down to read Mad Men, Desperate Housewives, and Girls updates.
So far, the movies this year have been quite dismal. Thank goodness summer is on its way so we can at least look forward to some entertaining blockbusters. I saw a preview for Snow White and the Huntsman on the big screen. The special effects look way cool. I'll definitely catch that one. As always, it won't be until the end of the year--around the time the awards season oils its gears--that the great films start to surface. Then it becomes a feast. Feast or famine appears to be the rule of thumb in the film world.
Just got off a two week Desperate Housewives binge. The series finale is next Sunday, so I had embarked on a return tour of all eight seasons. I can't begin to list the many characters that have been killed off over the years. Honestly, I can't count that high. Most deserved their fates--no losses there. But a few deaths were tragic. Karl's and Mike's come to mind. Can't wait to see how they'll wrap up the show. Will Tom and Lynette get back together? Will Bree be found not guilty of murder? Will Susan follow Julie back to college? Will Gaby reunite with her daughter Grace? We'll soon find out.
After my Desperate Housewives marathon ended, I was at a loss of how to peruse the remaining three weeks of my free Netflix trial month. A quick search led me to Mad Men. Nope, hadn't seen it. Of course I have been privy to the hype. Who hasn't? I usually steer clear of shows that the masses go gaga for such as Lost, The Sopranos, and The Wire. I've never seen a single episode of any of those shows. And I definitely duck and hide from brainless commercial hits like American Idol, The Bachelor, and Dancing With the Stars. Though I did catch a good part of DWTS one season, two years ago. But it's the same material again and again. Boring.
Back to Mad Men. Love it. I'm now a card carrying fan. I am halfway through Season Three. Season Five is now airing on AMC. So I am playing catch-up here. That's the story of my life when it comes to TV shows and music. Though I have been watching HBO's new show Girls in a timely manner. How long will I be in tow? I don't know. Only time will tell.
Mad Men Update:
Well, I'm up to speed. Just finished watching Mad Men's Season Five, Episode Eight. I have now consumed 3,040 minutes of madness in a little less than two weeks. Obviously my Kindle is gathering dust on the shelf. I highly recommend this entertaining show. If you don't have the time or patience to watch Seasons One through Four before checking out the current season Five, here is a 7 minute video from the creative geniuses at Slate that will give you plenty of background info on the characters and their shenanigans: Mad Men in 7 Minutes.
Desperate Housewives Update:
Death has always been a major theme on Wisteria Lane beginning with Mary Alice's suicide by gunshot in Season One, Episode One. And last night's series finale didn't stray from this norm. Yet, the tone was much lighter. Karen McCluskey finally succumbed to cancer. But unlike nearly all the other deaths over the last eight seasons, her death was peaceful and dignified. I'm glad.
If I were to get a copy of this last episode to review and pause, I would be able to get my answer to how many characters were killed off over the last eight seasons. In the last scene of the series, all the dead characters returned as ghosts wearing white clothes. Each was standing at the edge of the street to be seen by Susan as she and her family drove away from Wisteria Lane, never to return. But just like the characters and events of the Overlook Hotel, Wisteria Lane is sure to repeat itself, time and time again.
Just watched Season One's Episode Five of Girls. I'm finding myself to be strangely drawn to the character Adam. Maybe it's because he looks like a cross between my late brother and Keanu Reeves. And also because he's odd and arrogant and charming and a bit sexy.
A Year of Movies
February 2012 - December 2012
Oscars 2012, Oscar Ballot 2012, In Bed With Oscar, Oscars 2011.
2013 Oscar Nominees
My 2013 Ballot...
Slate's Movie Spoilers Podcast With Critic Dana Stevens
Best movie I have seen this year is Take This Waltz.
Scene from film
Current Releases ~ 2012
Take This Waltz ~ 4
Amour ~ 4
Argo ~ 4
Side by Side ~ 4
Zero Dark Thirty ~ 3.5
Silver Linings Playbook ~ 3.5
The Perks of Being a Wallflower ~ 3.5
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ~ 3.5
Game Change ~ 3.5
The Imposter ~ 3.5
Looper ~ 3.5
The Hunger Games ~ 3.5
The Turin Horse ~ 3.5
Bernie ~ 3.5
Pitch Perfect ~ 3.5
Hope Springs ~ 3
The Queen of Versailles ~ 3
Arbitrage ~ 3
We Are Legion ~ 3
Mirror Mirror ~ 3
Magic Mike ~ 3
West of Memphis ~ 3
Anna Karenina ~ 2.5
Lincoln ~ 2.5
This is 40 ~ 2.5
The Master ~ 2.5
Premium Rush ~ 2.5
Skyfall ~ 2.5
Moonrise Kingdom ~ 2.5
Ruby Sparks ~ 2.5
Kumare ~ 2.5
The Five-Year Engagement ~ 2.5
Jeff Who Lives at Home ~ 2.5
Wanderlust ~ 2.5
Hemingway & Gellhorn ~ 2.5
The Vow ~ 2.5
Chronicle ~ 2.5
21 Jump Street ~ 2.5
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 ~ 2
Snow White and the Huntsman ~ 2
This Means War ~ 1.5
The Dictator ~ 1.5
Movies Released Prior to 2012
Gates of Heaven ~ 4
8 ½ ~ 4
2001 Space Odyssey ~ 4
My Dinner With Andre ~ 4
Some Like It Hot ~ 4
The Apartment ~ 4
The Pixies: Gouge ~ 3.5
Sunset Boulevard ~ 3.5
Vertigo ~ 3.5
The Searchers ~ 3.5
This is Not a Film ~ 3.5
La Dolce Vita ~ 3.5
Tokyo Story ~ 3.5
Last Train Home ~ 3.5
My Man Godfrey ~ 3.5
Shame ~ 3.5
Zodiac ~ 3.5
Live Flesh ~ 3.5
Bonnie and Clyde ~ 3.5
Into the Abyss ~ 3.5
Weekend (2011) ~ 3.5
Straw Dogs ~ 3.5
Joy Division (2007) ~ 3
The Man With a Movie Camera ~ 3
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory ~ 3
Margaret ~ 3
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen ~ 3
The Queen ~ 3
Heckler ~ 3
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia ~ 3
The Trip ~ 3
Tiny Furniture ~ 3
True Romance ~ 3
Mildred Pierce (2011) ~ 2.5
loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies ~ 2.5
In Time ~ 2.5
Last Tango in Paris ~ 2.5
The Passion of Joan of Arc ~ 2
Swing Time ~ 2
2012 Movies I still hope to see before the awards season rolls around:
Hello I Must Be Going
How to Survive a Plague
Rust and Bone
The Central Park Five
Wagner & Me
Hecho En Mexico
Robot & Frank
Gates of Heaven, have you seen it? It's a great documentary made in 1978 by Errol Morris--same guy who gave us The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003).
Gates of Heaven begins by introducing us to a couple characters who have opened Los Altos Foothill Pet Cemetery near Napa Valley, CA. Mostly they're in it 'cause they love their pets and hate the idea of our beloved companion animals being rendered into tallow after death. They're all heart. Unfortunately this is their downfall. Without the business know how, their venture fails and goes bankrupt. 450 pets have to be removed from the cemetery. Fortunately a man named Cal Harberts comes to the rescue. He agrees to have the pets relocated to his pet cemetery, Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park, in Napa Valley. So we say goodbye to the first group in the film and meet the second group, the Harberts family. Now this bunch is serious about the business of burying and cremating pets. Not only do they have the compassion to successfully carry out this delicate mission, they have the skills to pay the bills. Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park is still in business today. And that is a good thing too--for the pets, at the very least. Sadly, Cal is no longer with us. His cremains are in an urn at the pet cemetery's chapel. His youngest son Dan now runs the place along with his wife.
Gates of Heaven is not only well made and entertaining but really got me thinking about what the heck I'm gonna do with the furry friend sitting on my lap once she kicks the bucket. My parents had their dog Bandit cremated several years ago. His ashes are in a beautiful stone urn that sits on a table in their home office. I want to have my cat Katie cremated as well. It is actually a lot cheaper than you'd think. I checked out three different pet crematoriums within an hour's drive from my house. The average price is about $120.00 plus the cost of the urn. A decent wood urn with an engraved plaque runs about $70.00. So for about $200.00, you can have your pet be with you forever rather than have it end up rendered at a factory or buried in the back yard of a house that you may, in the future, no longer own. I think that is a very small sum to pay for peace of mind. Don't you?
I'll sleep better tonight knowing that I have a plan for Katie. She doesn't know about it. But I do. And that is all that matters. The industry of death is for the living; the dead could care less. And the business of pet burial/cremation is for us humans; pets such as Katie could care less. And I'm glad she doesn't have to worry about such things.
I’m late to the party. This cinephile has no excuse. And I am a bit embarrassed to address my cultural faux pas. OK, I might as well get it out on the table. I just watched Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ for the very first time. Nope, I didn’t say twentieth time—first time. Can you believe it? I know, I really can’t either. But I must embrace this truth and get on with it. Better late than never? In this case, yes, yes, yes!
Where do I begin? Where do I finish? Ah, I will never finish discussing this film. Its bounty is endless. The cinematography is a feast for the eyes. Eccentric characters fill the screen wearing fanciful fashions. Strolling musicians delight and dancers energize spaces. The lighting both illuminates faces and objects and casts shadows on walls, making one never wish for a second that a film be made in color.
A solo bass drum beat is heard at the opening scene—like a heartbeat. Thump, thump, thump. Fellini’s alter ego Guido’s heart is beating. We join him in his head, in his dream—his nightmare. His breathing quickens and intensifies. The sound is of one having an orgasm? No. It’s an anxiety attack. The steam and movement in the car is not Guido in the throws of a sexual encounter but rather of him trying to escape. He’s trapped inside the vehicle—a metaphor for his life. Relief comes. Guido is free. He rises above the traffic congestion and then floats above an open sea. But then we notice that Guido is not free at all. He is tied to a string. He’s a kite being flown by his movie producers who are standing on the beach below—puppet masters directing the movement of the director. Suddenly, the string is cut and Guido falls to earth. He wakes. His nightmare ends but our journey has now just begun. This scene is so iconic. I could easily name it as a favorite. OK, it’s a favorite. But there are so many. This movie never dulls or disappoints the senses. It’s a fun filled, wondrously charming circus for adults.
If you haven’t seen this film, you must do so as soon as possible, because you will want to watch it again and again. And you will need time to do so. Forget spending ten bucks to see a mediocre movie like John Carter at the theater. Buy a copy of Fellini’s 8 ½ instead. You will be rewarded generously for years to come.
I have cinema fever. Because there are no new movies worth mentioning, I'll write about actors and actresses. Some I love and some I loathe. Here are the lists. Each actor and actress is described with one word. Sometimes one word is all it takes.
Tilda Swinton ~ Sharp
Julianne Moore ~ Brave
Jodie Foster ~ Intelligent
Penelope Cruz ~ Intense
Nicole Kidman ~ Classy
Kate Winslet ~ Firey
Angelina Jolie ~ Hot
Marisa Tomei ~ Fun
Eva Longoria ~ Adorable
Michele Williams ~ Delicate
Loves ~ Actors
Ryan Gosling ~ Versatile
George Clooney ~ Classy
Javier Bardem ~ Engaging
Ewan McGregor~ Adorable
Daniel Day Lewis ~ Transformative
Seth Rogen ~ Funny
Owen Wilson ~ Lovable
Ed Norton ~ Intelligent
Keanu Reeves ~ Sexy
Jim Carrey ~ Entertaining
Jack Lemmon ~ Brilliant!
Loathes ~ Actresses
Emma Watson ~ Loud
Jennifer Aniston ~ Dull
Jessica Alba ~ Dumb
Katie Holmes ~ Autopilot
Kate Hudson ~ Roadkill
Jennifer Lopez ~ Diva
Halle Berry ~ Unstable
Amy Adams ~ Boring
Reese Witherspoon ~ Cartoonish
Charlize Theron ~ Angry
Loathes ~ Actors
Woody Harrelson ~ Creepy
Tom Hanks ~ Whiney
Tobey McGuire ~ Squeaky
Elijah Wood ~ Elfish
Daniel Radcliffe ~ Prissy
Ryan Reynolds ~ Doofus
Leonardo DiCaprio ~ Stale
Mel Gibson ~ Racist
Matt Damon ~ Boring
Robin Williams ~ Hyper
Oscar Ballot 2012, In Bed With Oscar, Oscars 2011.
*This is a reverse order post, written in real time as the events occurred. If too confusing to view this way, read from bottom to top.*
Well, that's all there is folks. There is no more. It was fun. Same time next year? I'm off to watch The Real Housewives of Orange County that I downloaded yesterday. Chow.
9:35 PM ~ Best Picture goes to The Artist. I voted The Artist Will win and The Artist Should win. (12 of 18, 3 abstains)
9:30 PM ~ Best Actress goes to Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady. I voted for Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady Will win and Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady Should win. (11 of 17, 3 abstains)
9:20 PM ~ Best Actor goes to Jean Dujardin for The Artist. I voted for George Clooney for The Descendants Will win and George Clooney for The Decendants Should win. (10 of 16, 3 abstains)
8:55 PM ~ Best Director goes to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. I voted for Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist Will win and Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist Should win. (10 of 15, 3 abstains)
8:50 PM ~ Best Original Screenplay goes to Midnight in Paris. I voted for Midnight in Paris Will win and Midnight in Paris Should win. (9 of 14, 3 abstains)
8:45 PM ~ Best Adapted Screenplay goes to The Descendants. I voted for Moneyball Will win and Moneyball Should win. (8 of 13, 3 abstains)
8:40 PM ~ Each place setting at the Vanity Fair Oscar party has an engraved Zippo lighter with a Christopher Hitchens quote.
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8:20 PM ~ Best Original Song goes to Man or Muppet. I did not vote in this category. (Last one.) (8 of 12, 3 abstains)
8:15 PM ~ Best Original Score goes to The Artist. I voted for Hugo Will win and Hugo Should win. ( 8 of 12, 2 abstains)
8:03 PM ~ Best Supporting Actor goes to Christopher Plummer for Beginners. I voted for Christopher Plummer in Beginners Will win and Christopher Plummer in Beginners Should win. (8 of 11, 2 abstains)
7:55 PM ~ Best Visual Effects goes to Hugo. I voted Hugo Will win and Hugo Should win. (7 of 10, 2 abstains)
7:48 PM ~ Best Animated Feature goes to Rango. Again, I didn't vote on this one, as I didn't get to see any of the films in this category--not a big fan of cartoons. Though I did love last year's Toy Story 3. Cried like a school child at the end of the film.
7:45 PM ~ Best Documentary goes to Undefeated. ( I guess the title says it all, ha ha.) Didn't vote on this one, as I didn't get to see any of the films in this category.
7: 35 ~ Bummer, I am missing the Cirque du Soleil action--the only thing bound to be visually stunning or remotely entertaining about the whole awards show. Break for me. Be back in a bit.
7:32 PM ~ Best Sound Mixing goes to Hugo. I voted The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Will win and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Should win. (6 of 9)
7:30 PM ~ Best Sound Editing goes to Hugo. I voted Hugo Will win and Drive Should win. (6 0f 8)
7:25 PM ~ Best Editing goes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I voted The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Will win and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Should win. (5 of 7)
7:16 PM ~ Best Supporting Actress goes to Octavia Spencer in The Help. I voted Octavia Spencer in The Help Will win and Bérénice Bejo in The Artist Should win. (4 of 6)
7:10 PM ~ Best Foreign Language film goes to A Separation. I voted A Separation Will win and A Separation Should win. (3 0f 5)
7:05 PM ~ Best Makeup goes to The Iron Lady. I voted Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Will win and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Should win. (2 0f 4)
7:00 PM ~ Best Costume Design goes to The Artist. I voted Hugo Will win and Hugo Should win. (2 0f 3)
6:47 ~ Best Art Direction goes to Hugo. I voted Hugo Will win and Hugo Should win. (2 0f 2)
6:45 PM ~ Best Cinematography goes to Hugo. I voted Hugo Will win and The Tree of Life Should win. (1 0f 1)
6:15 PM ~ The lady's a vamp! Love Angelina!
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5:45 PM ~ It's not The Iron Lady; it's the bronze lady:
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5:20 PM ~ The Punisher, Harvey Weinstein, AKA God, arrives--with a paid escort obviously. Kidding!
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5:05 PM ~ Here is me playing fashion police:
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This is a photo of Best Supporting Actress nominee Bérénice Bejo, wearing Elie Saab couture, with Michel Hazanavicius, Best Director nominee--both for the film The Artist. While he looks dashing, she looks... well, matronly. She's too young to wear this frumpy, heavy, dark gown. She'd look better in a flapper dress; and, it would have been more fitting, I think.
5:00 PM ~ I cannot get a good connection in order to stream the show, so I will just follow the live blogging posts at The New York Times. I'll post pics and my thoughts when inspired to do so. Right now, the celebrities are arriving on the red carpet. After only scrolling through three pictures, I found one worth commenting on.
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The Academy Awards show is tonight! I will attempt to stream the show. If that doesn't work out, I may see if I can get it to come in on the little box that couldn't. If neither of those are successful, I will try to find a live blogging site to follow along. The show is bound to suck anyways. It always does. Though I do like to see what all the celebrities are wearing. Of course, I know I'll be able to find tons of pics online after the show ends.
I will post my thoughts about the winners/losers later today. Though my favorite movies were not nominated this year, I have voted on the Academy's picks. I am curious to see how my choices fare.
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