Wednesday, February 22, 2012



BEST PICTURE (At least 5 & up to 10, if deserving of nomination)

I’ve got 5 because there were only 3 I thought deserving...

The DEBT *
50 / 50

Apes & Beaver barely beat out- Horrible Bosses, Paul & We Bought A Zoo!

DANIEL CRAIG (Dragon Tattoo)
MEL GIBSON (as The Beaver)
RYAN GOSLING** (Ides Of March)

ROONEY MARA (Dragon Tattoo)

KENNETH BRANAGH (My Week With Marilyn)
ANDY SERKIS (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

JENNIFER ANISTON (Horrible Bosses)
JESSICA CHASTAIN** (The Help! & The Debt)
SHAILENE WOODLEY (The Descendants)

Keeping in mind I have not seen ‘Tree Of Life’, ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ or ‘Beginners’ I would have liked to but they never came to the South End.


Of the 9 Best Pictures, I’ve seen 6; loved 1, really liked 1, liked, but was disappointed by 1 was less-than-thrilled by 1, was annoyed by 1 & hated 1.
The only one I know I’ll never see is the so-called favorite, “The Artist” – This, & “Hugo” are the type of movies Hollywood likes to embrace because they’re about making movies when movies were sh--ty.
I’m hoping ‘Tree Of Life’ comes on HBO before the Oscars so I’ll know if it’s as bad as Sean Penn claims, or a masterpiece, as the snooty critics call it.
I have little desire to see ‘Midnight In Paris’ but will if it comes to HBO.
Why ‘The Debt’ & ‘50/50’ were not nominated baffles me about as much as ‘Moneyball’
& ‘Extremely Loud’ getting in instead.
‘The Help’ & ‘Descendants’ are good flicks, I have no problem with them being here.
Surprised that ‘Girl With Dragon Tattoo’ didn’t get a nod.
Glad that ‘Bridesmaids’ didn’t – if a pure comedy were to make it, ‘Horrible Bosses’ or
‘Paul’ should have been the choices.
My pick among the nominees; ‘War Horse’ is clearly the best.
MY PREDICTION, however, is ‘The ARTIST’

ACTOR; Saw 3 & have mixed feelings – I like Clooney but he was so MUCH BETTER in Michael Clayton that it seems a shame that he’s favored to win for ‘Descendants’. In fact, I would have preferred he get a Supporting nod for ‘Ides OfMarch’...
& Gary Oldman has NEVER been nominated??? But they give him one for what has to be his dullest performance ever? I guess I’m glad he’s in it because he’s long
deserved to have ‘Academy Award nominee’ next to his credits, but I can’t root for such a boring film... & Brad Pitt... REALLY? I’ve been warming up to him lately – ‘Benjamin Button’ was a deserved nomination & I liked him in ‘Burn After Reading’, &, of course, my favorite of his, ‘Seven’, but ‘Moneyball’ is a bottom 10 piece of yawn inducing junk. The only thing that would be more mystifying is if they nominated Jonah Hill for his extremely bland supporting role...
I don’t plan on ever seeing the other 2 nominees, ‘A Better Life’ or ‘The Artist’.
Me? I don’t have a strong choice here – any one of my 5 choices (none of which were nominated) would be deserving in my eyes. Heck, of my next 5 choices, only George Clooney is among the actual nominees (For the record they are; Clooney, Matt Damon (Zoo) Johnny Depp (Rum) Leonardo DiCaprio (J.Edgar) & Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code)
My choice would be to call it a tie between Ryan Gosling & Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
My PREDICTION is The French guy that doesn’t say anything in ‘The Artist’

ACTRESS; I haven’t seen ‘Albert Nobbs’, don’t plan to – it just looks creepy. Surprisingly, I have no qualms with any of the nominees (3 of the 5 made my list)
The only reason Michelle Williams didn’t is because I saw Michelle, not Marilyn; though as I said, she had the mannerisms & voice down pat, so I’m okay with her getting a nod.
& honestly, Rooney Mara made my list only because my other selection was Jodie Foster for ‘The Beaver’ and I felt that she wasn’t in the film enough to warrant a Best Actress selection.
My selection here is Helen Mirren for ‘The Debt’.
MY PREDICTION is Viola Davis – but Meryl Streep wouldn’t be a shock.

SUPPORTING ACTORS; I wished I’d seen ‘Beginners’. Since I did not, my selection is Jesper Christenson (The Nazi doctor in ‘The Debt’) with a runner-up nod to Andy Serkis (Rise of Planet of the Apes) Neither of them were nominated.
MY PREDICTION one one Sure bet is Christopher Plummer for ‘Beginners’ – a revered 82 year old actor that’s only had one nomination? (also for Supporting) Add that he was pretty good in ‘Dragon Tattoo’ this year & he’s a shoe-in.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS; This category is almost always a farce because there never are 5 deserving performances. This year I at least found 5 performances that I liked, but
would I have called them Oscar caliber? Elle Fanning impressed me as a CHILD actress in ‘Super 8’, but I don’t normally recognize child actors because they are children. I also gave credit to Shailene Woodley for being the most impressive actress in ‘The Descendants’ & Jennifer Aniston for finally playing someone other than Rachel Green in ‘Horrible Bosses’. So that leaves the under appreciated Naomi Watts (‘J. Edgar’) & the busiest little actress of 2011, Jessica Chastain (they say ‘The Help’, but I’m adding ‘The Debt’ to the mix because she was superb in both) so Jessica is my pick.
MY PREDICTION is OCTAVIA SPENCER (Help!) I loved how she sang ‘Ticket To Ride’ while skiing down the Alps...

DIRECTOR; I’m going with non-nominated Steven Speilberg (“War Horse”) which is funny because I’m not a big fan of his – well, he’s made some good films but he’s also made a lot of crap that for some unreasonable reason became massively popular.
MY PREDICTION ... this is a tough one – will they heap the majority of awards upon a black & white silent film, or give some love to the ‘other’ film about crappy movies, “Hugo”? Martin winning his first recently might throw some votes in another direction...
All right, I’ll say they continue the lovefest for ‘The Artist’ & say Michael Hazanavicius.

NOTABLE SNUB; ‘J. Edgar’ NOT nominated for MAKE-UP? Sure Armie Hammer’s was crap, but Leonardo’s & Naomi’s were perfect!

BIGGEST MISTAKE; ‘The Debt’ not being nominated for Best Picture.

BIGGEST JOKE; A silent movie, ‘The Artist’ being nominated for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY . . . & Hollywood wants us to take them seriously???


“SAFE HOUSE” (Denzel Washington & Ryan Reynolds)

This was disappointing. I expected a more intelligent thriller. I don’t really care what a film is rated; R, PG-13 or whatever, because I now realize that all I need to know is – How many car chases are there and how many weapons are fired (Total # of bullets fired will suffice) In ‘Safe House’ the answers are too many and too many. With Denzel in the cast, I was hoping to see something much more intriguing and much less ‘Vin Diesel-ish’.
They had a pretty good premise; Matt Weston (Reynolds) works for the CIA, but he doesn’t have a glamorous job. He basically baby-sits a facility in Cape Town, South Africa where nothing ever happens. He constantly begs his superior (Brendan Gleeson) to get him into the real world of being an agent.
Denzel plays Tobin Frost; a rogue agent that’s wanted for selling information to the highest bidder. When Tobin gets his hands on some incriminating data, he is immediately set upon by a gang of thugs with automatic weapons that don’t seem to care how many people they have to gun down as long as one of them is Frost. Tobin’s only escape route seems to be to turn himself in and is whisked to Matt’s safe house. When the facility is compromised by the thugs and the men that brought Frost in are gunned down one by one, Tobin tells Matt, “They want me alive, but you?They’ll kill.”
We later learn that's a lie because the number of bullets the thugs fire at Tobin runs well into the hundreds of thousands.
The story then becomes an hour long chase scene as Matt & Frost attempt to elude the thugs in one reckless car chase scene after another – with hundreds of thousands of bullets being fired from the windows of speeding cars and into Cape Town neighborhoods. I had to laugh out loud when at one point the thugs come to a screeching halt and stop firing their weapons at the sight of a singular police squad car.
Vera Farmiga virtually copies the same role she had in the much more interesting “Source Code” as she plays a CIA agent that stands in a control room, takes phone calls from CIA head Sam Shepherd and argues with Brendan Gleeson.
The one thing ‘Safe House’ offers that most shoot ’em up’s don’t – most of the characters actually get shot during the 14,872,693 bullets that are fired.


“The VOW” (Rachel McAdams & Channing Tatum... or is it Tatum Channing?)

Every year I VOW to have more tolerance for chick flicks my wife wants to see and every year I break that vow in January or February...
There were two reasons I didn’t get up and let my spouse watch the second half of this pseudo-tearjerker alone while I waited in the car; One, Rachel McAdams is just so darned cute and Two – Channing Tatum didn’t attempt to sing “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” a second time. I even warned my wife after the first infuriating chorus, “If he does that again, I’m leaving.”
This based-on true facts story begins with the accident; Paige (Rachel) decides she’ll have a better chance of getting pregnant if she and husband Leo (Tatum) have sex in their car while parked at a stop sign during a Chicago snow storm late at night. Shortly after unbuckling her seatbelt to get the action started they are rammed from behind by a truck, sending Paige thru the windshield. The resulting damage to her brain causes Paige to forget the last 4 or 5 years of her life and so her hubby goes about the task of trying to make her fall in love with him all over again. Leo does everything wrong; he brings her home to a large crowd of people shouting ‘Surprise!’ She doesn’t like that this guy claiming to be her husband would think that’s the kind of reception she would want on her first day out of the hospital. The next morning, Mr. Duh walks into the bedroom completely nude. When Paige freaks out at the sight of his package, he smirks and offers, “Well, it’s not like you haven’t seen it before.” . . . Duh, Mr. Duh – she’s suffered brain trauma – the fact that you’re entirely insensitive to that makes you a jerk.
During her first outing alone, Paige becomes lost – she can’t remember where Mr. Duh lives – so she calls her mother (the queen of bad actresses, Jessica Lange) to come and take her ‘home’ – to her parents house. Sam Neill plays dad, a highly paid successful lawyer that wanted his daughter to follow in his footsteps. Much to his dismay, she dropped out of law school to become a sculptor.
In Paige’s mind, she’s still in law school and engaged to a smarmy cheeseball named Jeremy (Scott Speedman) Jeremy’s gel stricken hair is the only reason I started hoping Mr. Duh would come around and start behaving like a decent guy instead of an airhead.
Leo’s attempt to win back his wife’s affection creates some sparks, but in the end they are futile because Paige is unnerved by this stranger who is madly in love with her.
Does Paige regain her memory and return to Leo’s arms? Does she succumb to Jeremy’s attempt to reconnect with her since she doesn’t remember why she dumped him the first time around? Does she figure out what it was about her family that drove her away from them in the first place? Do we actually care about the answers to these questions? Well, only because Rachel McAdams is just so darn cute we kinda do, but whatever happens it doesn’t stir enough emotion to call this a worthy chick flick – it’s got that typical soap opera formula; Amnesia, men behaving like pigs and pushy parents. If that's your idea of a winning formula - go for it, but you could see similar fare on the Lifetime network...


“BIG MIRACLE” (Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Ted Danson & Kristen Bell)

Following in the footsteps of “Dolphin Tale” this is another true story of water mammals being rescued by humans. What “Big Miracle” does to prove their story is real is use actual news footage of the event. Yes, it adds realism but overall, I felt it detracted from the story by over-use. All right, I get it, this really happened, but I'm more concerned with the whales than I am with old Tom Brokaw footage.
“Big Miracle” is the tale of three grey whales that become trapped in the ice off the northernmost region of Alaska. I had a problem with the trailer when they announced the whales were named Fred, Wilma & Bam Bam... As everyone should know The Flintstones child was named Pebbles – Barney & Betty had Bam Bam. They explain the reason for the misnomer in the film as being the baby whale is a male not a female...
Who gives a s--t if a whale named Pebbles is a male? If you have a problem with it, call him Dino. But having Fred & Wilma & Bam Bam is simply unacceptable and goes against the laws of cartoon nature. There. I said what we have all wanted to say.
With that off my chest, I consider this film much like “Dolphin Tale” – It’s a sweet, touching movie where mankind attempts to save one of the world’s creatures instead of hunting it to extinction – Though that idea is bandied about by the local Eskimo tribe that votes on whether or not to kill the whales or try to save them... to then kill at a later date when they’re technically not ‘fish in a barrel’.
For the most part, I like John Krasinski as a movie actor and here he fits the bill as amiable Anchorage news reporter Adam Carlson; the man who breaks the story of the three trapped whales, which gradually leads to national coverage.
Drew Barrymore plays Greenpeace activist Rachel – and although her character is likable enough, her cheesy acting style makes you want her to succeed in her mission to save the whales, but not to win back ex-boyfriend Adam.
Ted Danson is McGraw, the bad-guy Oil Company executive that comes to realize that saving these whales is the kind of publicity that will help him to destroy thousands of animals in the near future with his plans to destroy a game reserve.
Kristen Bell is unusually effective as Jill, the ‘pretty princess’ news reporter that accepts the job of covering the story no one else wants.
Dermont Mulrooney, another one of those actors that always seems to be annoyed no matter what his character calls for, plays the man in charge of getting an ice breaking barge to the site of the trapped whales before the hole they’re breathing from freezes over completely. His character is quite a cranky little snot and so his annoyed veneer actually fits here.
Stephen Root plays the Alaskan governor who is forced to change his stance on helping the whales when it becomes national news.
And the Daily Show’s Rob Riggle has yet another amusing bit part (He was the cop in the original ‘Hangover’ that had his squad car stolen) when he and his business partner appear with devices that help to keep the ice from sealing the whales underwater to meet their doom. I always find it amusing how there is no difference between Minnesotans and Canadians as they speak the same language... eh?
That’s the run-down. It’s just a nice little tale of human beings actually being humane. The power of the media is brought forth, for without it there’s no way anyone would have bothered to do anything about three whales trapped in the Arctic Circle. The governor wouldn’t have called on the National Guard and the guys with the ice melters would not have known about the sea creatures’ plight.
It’s one of those films that you just can’t say anything bad about. Unless you’re one of those nitwits that thinks the Cold War is still going on and it was ‘just wrong’ for the U. S. to request help from those godless Ruskies...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


“EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE” (Thomas Horn, Max Von Sydow, Sandra Bullock & Tom Hanks)

Basic rule of thumb #1 in making a movie – Don’t expect a kid actor to be able to carry your film. ‘EL&IC’ does, and it fails miserably. Thomas Horn plays Oscar, a lad who was clearly closer to his father (Tom Hanks) than his mother (Sandra Bullock) and when dad dies on 9 / 11, Oscar goes from being an interesting child – a little quirky, but in an intelligent way – to being a drama queen.
Oscar screams at people for no reason, even while he’s trying to explain his situation; and Thomas, whom I don’t blame for coming across as a totally unbelievable character, is expected to carry this rather lengthy film from start to finish – he does the narrative and he is practically in every scene. That’s asking a lot of a kid actor and the director seemed oblivious as to when the boy was over acting to the point of irritation to the viewing audience. I stopped caring about Oscar’s plight when he told someone where he was during each and every one of his father’s phone calls home on the day he died. Oscar wasn’t home for five of the six calls and at one point he says, “I know I was in front of the church when my dad’s
4th call came because I counted the steps from my school to the church and a typical child my age takes ‘X’ amount of steps per minute...” blah, blah, blah... My eyes were rolling like pinballs at that one. From then on, I found Oscar to be the creation of a writer that didn’t know how to write for a child. He stopped being real to me and so I wasn’t affected by his predicament.
The predicament itself was intriguing; Oscar accidentally breaks a vase that was situated on a shelf in his father’s closet. Hidden inside the vase was a small envelope with the word ‘Black’ written on it. Inside the envelope was an unmarked key. Oscar then makes it his purpose in life to find what the key fits. He starts by visiting every person in New York named Black. Oscar’s adventures should have made this a movie worth watching. Unfortunately, most of the people Oscar meets are kind of boring. Well, they’re New Yorkers, what would one expect?
Oscar is also a little bit creepy as he likes to watch his neighbors thru binoculars. I found it to be unnerving that he mainly zoomed in on his grandmother. When an elderly gentleman (Max Von Sydow) rents a room in Granny’s apartment, Oscar is told to ‘leave him alone’. When The Renter’s identity is finally revealed, they think it’s a big dramatic moment, but my wife & I knew who he was before his first encounter with Oscar. The old man doesn’t speak – not that he can’t, he simply chooses not to. He was the words ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ written on the palms of his hands to answer any question requiring one of those answers.
One of the reasons I’m very disappointed in this years’ Oscars... perhaps I should use Academy Awards here – is, not only are my nominees are completely different from the Academy’s, but here’s a year where a silent, black and white film is nominated for Best Picture; an actor in that silent film is nominated for Best Actor; an actor that doesn’t say a word in his film is nominated for Best Supporting Actor and a silent movie is nominated for Best Screenplay . . . WTF?
But the main reason to stay with this film is to learn what the key fits and what’s inside – and that intriguing set up – the main crux of the movie – is blown off. Another odd thing Oscar does is hide the phone messages his dad sent on 9 / 11 from his mother. He plays all but the last one for The Renter – leaving us wondering what the hell was the final message? The only way to redeem this story is for that message to have some emotional impact – to make up for all the overly dramatic screaming and bad acting we’ve had to endure – I needed that message to be something heart wrenching... and it isn’t. It’s, like everything else in ‘EL & IC’; unemotional and rather pointless.
This movie is nominated for Best Picture. The even duller ‘Moneyball’ is nominated for Best Picture (As least ‘EL&IC’ had the possibility of ‘intrigue’) The barely entertaining ‘Hugo’ is nominated for Best Picture. A silent black & white movie that over 30% of audiences in the U.K. walked out on and demanded their money back is nominated for Best picture. A Woody Allen movie is nominated for Best Picture (Wasn’t he banned from this country for molesting his daughter? Oh, that’s right, he married his daughter so it’s not a crime) A film in which one of the stars said, “I’ve seen it twice and I still have no idea what it means.” is nominated for Best Picture – But the Best Picture of 2011 is NOT nominated. The Best Picture of 2011 didn’t receive a single nomination in any one of the 532 categories.
So despite the fact that I write a review of every movie I see and I’ve seen about
70 of them this year (Down a bit from previous years) I will not be watching the Academy Awards Ceremony this year – I have no rooting interest. I know ‘War Horse’ won’t win, so what’s the point? It’d be nice if ‘The Debt’ was nominated, seeing it was clearly the Best Picture of 2011 and we could have a neat little match race between it and ‘War Horse’, but in a down year for film – the Academy has decided to give an acting nomination to Jonah Hill... Seriously? Does anyone think Jonah Hill did a better job of acting in ‘Moneyball’ than Jesper Christenson did in ‘The Debt’ ?
Also, I did not see ‘Beginners’ (though I wanted to) so this is going to seem like a goofy prediction, but my one sure bet for Oscar night is Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor. He’s 82. He’s never won. Only been nominated once before. And he was also in “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. He wins.
Let’s see, anything else bother me about ‘EL&IC”? Oh yes, the tambourine! As if Oscar’s screaming and hammed up phony emotional outbursts weren’t annoying enough – the kid shakes a tambourine throughout the entire movie. I am not exaggerating, I counted 37 scenes where I was hoping the ghost of John Belushi would show up in a toga and rip that stupid so-called musical instrument from Oscar’s hand and smash it to smithereens.