Tag Archives: Oscars

Chris Pine’s Tears

A bit of a slow start to the ol’ blogging year from the “Mountains Beyond Mountains” gang. We had some technical difficulties right from the “get go” so we stumbled a bit, and then David Bowie up and died on us, and we felt like we should write something about that, and we did. And then, before the ink was dry on the galleys (we do things the artisanal way here at the MBM HQ), Alan Rickman had to follow suit. We were just about to write a loving tribute to Alan Rickman and all the times we’ve enjoyed him in movies when the worst blow of all came. Yes, that’s right. Rene Angelil, the husband and manager of Quebecois chanteuse Celine Dion finally succumbed to the cancer he was telling everyone about for almost 20 years.

Well, you can imagine the mood around the lighthouse when that third and final bit of celebrity death news was delivered to us by passenger pigeon. As an editorial team, we decided to burn the Alan Rickman galleys outside in a bonfire, and we fired up our CD player with all the Celine Dion music we had laying around. You may think that Rene Angelil would be an easy target for us to lampoon here at MBM, BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG. Sure, he was like in his 30’s when he first met Celine Dion, and Celine Dion was 12 or something. And sure, he looked creepy. And yes, there were all those UNPROVEN allegations that the guy was a grade-A perv, especially if you had the misfortune of taking an elevator ride alone with him. And yet, he must have been doing something right. He seemed to have a successful and happy marriage to Celine Dion, something that I would imagine would be nightmarish to most.

Ah well, the end was that no one around here really felt like writing for a while, and so we didn’t. Amidst that week of triple death, the Oscar Nominations had the stupid luck of being announced, and no sooner had people realized that happened that people were complaining that for two years now all the acting categories were filled with WHITES, and this was frustrating and dumb to many people of colour, and I would imagine many people of non-colour. Albinos, if you will. I heard the albino community was just as upset at the Academy’s lack of diversity. It’s as if they hired Chris Rock as the host and then said, “Well, that takes care of THAT,” and got onto other business. Remember when Paul Bettany played that evil albino guy in “The Da Vinci Code” and everyone was like ‘That’s terrible. Albinos are people too!” Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw an honest to goodness albino out walking around in the streets? It’s been awhile. I just watched “Selma” on the weekend, and I remember that movie made some waves last year, but was shut out of the major awards, taking just “original song” by John Legend and Common. Common, as it turns out, has a role in “Selma” as “one of the guys that hangs out with Dr. King”. You know what? I don’t know a thing about Common, but I like what I see. I think a friend of mine said something similar around awards season when he would pop up, accept an award, make a thoughtful and passionate speech, and then was gone. I think that’s his way. He’s like an oral Lone Ranger, (I welcome your emails), who stays out of the limelight but then is RIGHT THERE (Boom!) just when you need him.

Where am I going with all this? Oh yes, it’s been an annual tradition around here since we started this blog ALMOST FIVE YEARS AGO, to write up a little “Oscar” preview, and the joke always was that I had never seen any of the best picture movies so I would say silly things about each one and we all had a bit of a laugh and moved on. And sure enough, out of the 8 nominated this year, I’ve only seen 3 this year too. “The Martian”, “Bridge of Spies” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”. It just FEELS like I’ve seen 4, from everything I’ve heard about “Brooklyn”, so you know what? Screw it. I’m counting “Brooklyn” as one of the movies I’ve seen. I hear it was beautifully shot. I MEAN “It was beautifully shot!” and the lady from Educating Rita is really great as the boarding house matron. Her scenes were some of my favourite. So that means I just need to see “The Revenant”, which I sort of want to see. I mean, it looks harrowing, but I am a sucker for the steadicam tracking shots and I hear this movie has a bunch. For those that saw “Birdman” last year, (same director. A chap from MEXICO. Does that count as a person of colour? He certainly is swarthy), that whole damn movie was one shot. (Or at least it was edited together to look like it was. I’m sure they filmed it over a couple of days or something. It’s not like the “you are a tourist” video from Death Cab for Cutie, or “Sweetest Thing” vid from U2. Those are the real deal. What’s next? “Spotlight”? I overheard that it is a “renter”, and so it shall be. Then what? “The Big Short”? No thanks. It looks like “The Wolf of Wall Street” but less interesting (and I HATED The Wolf of Wall Street). and that just leaves room for, um “Room”. The book club ladies at my library read this one in September and all seemed to enjoy it, but from what I’ve heard it’s like “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” but with less jokes. I’ll only see it if I am guaranteed a remix of “Pinot Noir” over the end credits.

If I had to choose a winner out of all of these choices, I am guessing “The Revenant” will win, but out of the 3 (4!) that I’ve seen, I enjoyed “Mad Max: Fury Road” the most. (But “Brooklyn” was a close second! You have to see it, guys!)

 

 

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The Year of the Snub

Update: I’m being told that Mr. Pauls is still dead. Thoughts and prayers continue to go to his family.

Alright, since I’m contractually obligated to mention Mr. Pauls in every posted written in January, I’m glad to get this out of the way.

So: on to our annual “Oscar” preview blog post, which has become a bit of a tradition around here. We here at the lighthouse enjoy watching movies, but we enjoy EVEN MORE talking about movies we haven’t yet seen. So with that in mind, let’s look at the contenders: So we’ve got eight movies in the “Best Picture” category this year, just to keep us on our toes. Nobody knows how they end up with the final number. I hear it involves the masons and the ghost of former president of the MPAA Karl Malden, (known as “Hot Karl” to his friends), but I shan’t comment on the process. As we like to say, it is shrouded in mystery, as it should be, as all great mysteries are.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Well, I think this is a Mountains Beyond Mountains new record. At the time of the writing, I have seen only one of the eight best picture nominees. I think other years I average around three, but gosh I’ve really let my local theatre down this time. And the only one I have seen is “The Grand Budapest Hotel” way back in March 2014, not because I was gunning to get all my Oscar noms in before the big day, but because it is a Wes Anderson movie, and by God I just love that guy and everything he’s all about. Even though I may not always love all of his movies to the same degree, I’m just glad we have him in the world, working away at his projects and producing something on a semi-regular basis for me to enjoy. It’s always fun to meet another Wes Anderson fan, because when you do you’ve met a kindred and you have all this shared vocabulary and experience that you can quickly short-hand. “Where’s that red one gonna go?” “Let me tell you about my boat.” “On the run from Johnny Laws. Ain’t no trip to Cleveland”. “You get the rich kids in the cross-hairs and you take them down.” “I love you but you don’t know what you’re talking about”. I could keep going. I’ve only seen “The Grand Budapest Hotel” that one time in the theatre, but I recall lavish set pieces, wonderfully dry humour from Ralph Fiennes’ character, and rich narration from F. Murray Abraham which took me right back to that summer of 1984 when I saw “Amadeus” in the Clear Lake theatre with my brother and Dad. I really should see it again, and I plan to. Wes Anderson movies are one of the few things that I tend to revisit again and again, although the two that seem to get the most attention from me are Rushmore and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The Grand Budapest Hotel would get my vote for “Best Picture” this year, not only because it’s the only one I’ve actually seen, but because I can’t imagine what an Oscar win for this movie would do for Wes Anderson and his group of regulars. Open some doors? Allow him/them to do more? I certainly hope it doesn’t change their aesthetic. I know it’s uncool to mention him, but I think of Wes Anderson as I think of Woody Allen. Both are artists that do their thing and make just enough money to let them to keep doing their thing year after year. Some of their things connect with a wider audiences and are considered “hits” while others don’t and are forgotten by everyone except the most loyal of fans. Oh gosh, I could just talk about Wes Anderson all day, but we’ve got another seven movies to get through today.

"Take your hands off my lobby boy!"

“Take your hands off my lobby boy!”

American Sniper

Right. Ever since I saw “Silver Linings Playbook” I’ve really come to love Bradley “Coops” Cooper, but there’s NO WAY I’m going to sit through a drama about an American Sniper, unless you can prove to me that a character says at one point, “Sniper? I hardly KNOW her.” Plus, Jennifer Lawrence isn’t in this, is she? My wife is still convinced that the Coops and Jenns are doing it and how could I argue?

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Pew! Pew! Pew!

 

Birdman

I think fans of a certain age will remember the anticipation of 1989’s Batman. I still remember its release date: June 19, from all the promotional posters leading up to its release. I saw it three times in the theatre. The first time was after the last day of grade 9. You remember that weird half day where you’d go in to clean out your locker and pick up your report card in the morning? My friends and I took the bus downtown to the long gone Northstar theatre that afternoon and were blown away by what we saw. It was the first “comic book” movie I ever saw that took its subject seriously. (Okay, I mean compared to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, 1989’s Batman looks a bit goofy, but at the time it captured all of our imaginations). I went back a couple of weeks later and took my little brother who I felt HAD to see this movie in the theatre. The third time was at the end of August (it was still in theatres in August, you guys) when I dragged my parents to see it. I think my Dad was kind of interested because I spent all summer talking about how excellent it was, and if you remember my Dad did this thing where he would go to a theatre and “preview” a movie for my brother and me before letting us see it ourselves, and so this was a little bit of a “passing of the torch” moment for my Dad, I think, because here I was, previewing the movie for him. Needless to say, my Dad loved it too, and as it turned out it would be the only Batman movie he would see, since the sequel would come out a year after he died. Another thing about this movie (that my 15-year-old self probably didn’t appreciate) was that Prince wrote all original songs for the soundtrack. The soundtrack was by Prince, you guys. (Orchestrations by Danny Elfman, it was a Tim Burton movie after all, but STILL). I imagine this meeting between Prince and a couple of Warner Brothers producers, taking place a year earlier at Paisley Park.

Prince: “You want me to write the theme tune, sing the theme tune? Star in this screamer?”

Producers: “Oh gosh no. Just the music. The music would be great. We are thinking something dark, something moody.”

Prince: “I have just the thing. In fact, I just finished filming my own feature length Batman movie where I play all the parts. Oh, you’ll never see it. No one will ever see it. It’s just for me.”

Producers: “Um, why are all the doors locked in this room. Wait! What’s that purple gas coming out of those nozzles in the ceiling??!!…wait!!!!.”

[end transcript]

And that’s how the world got “Batdance”.

Look, I don’t know anything about Birdman, except that it stars Michael Keaton playing a guy who used to play a superhero, and I hear that Edward Norton gets a boner in it or something. Hats off to you, good sir! Can’t wait!

Oh screw it! Let's just watch Batman again.

Oh screw it! Let’s just watch Batman again.

 

Boyhood

Richard Linklater is a bit “hit and miss” with me. I saw “Slacker” back when it played in our local “art house” theatre in the early 90s. It came out in the same year as one of my all time favourite movies, “J.F.K.” and there is one scene in “Slacker” where they just let this Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorist talk and talk and it’s just wonderful. “Dazed and Confused” was equally marvelous, launching the career of friend of the blog, Matthew McConaughey. Then somehow Linklater got caught up with that shady character, Ethan Hawke, and was tricked into filming all those talky European style movies where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy walk around and ride on trains and look out windows, and all the while you just want them to stop talking or maybe keep walking away from the camera or maybe get off the train and accidentally cross another railway track and get HIT BY THE SOUTHBOUND EUROSTAR or something, but they just KEEP FUCKING TALKING. I’m sure Linklater’s done other movies too, but how can we ever get over the TAINT left by those 17 films with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy? This new one stars Ethan Hawke too, which immediately puts it into the category of “movies I’ll never see unless you trick me into watching it”. And you know how movies like to pride themselves in saying that “No animals were harmed in the making of this film”? Well what about kidnapping a 6 year old and holding him against his will for 12 YEARS, forcing him to act in a feature length film for just a week out of every year, like that creepy guy in Austria a few years back. We shouldn’t be celebrating this movie, we should be prosecuting the producers for child endangerment. Who does Linklater think he is? Prince?

Milk carton images during the 12 years of captivity.

Milk carton images during the 12 years of captivity.

Imitation Game/Theory of Everything Ah yes. Isn’t it always the way? If one company produces a movie about a tortured British math genius, you just know a rival company will be producing another version of another tortured British math genius in the same year. But which one is the  splashy Armageddon, and which one is the critically favoured Deep Impact? Which one is the fan favourite Volcano and which is the ill-fated Dante’s Peak? Which one is Academy award-winning Capote and which one becomes merely  the also-ran Infamous?

Benedict Cumberbatch (left) as Alan Turing and Eddie Redmayne (right) as Stephen Hawking

Benedict Cumberbatch (left) as Alan Turing and Eddie Redmayne (right) as Stephen Hawking

 

Selma

I have not seen Selma, but this is as good a spot as any to talk about the year of the snub. Although this movie got a “best picture” nomination, it got precious little else, as if the Academy were saying, “We really like this movie, but we can’t tell you about one part of it that is actually worth talking about, but Oprah had something to do with it, right? So let’s nominate it because who wants to get on the bad side of Oprah? Stedman found out the hard way and let’s just say he isn’t around anymore.” People are saying that there are no “people of colour” (which is different than “coloured people”, please take note Benedict Cumberbatch) nominated in any of the major categories, and all of the nice big award categories are filled with so many white dudes, it looks like an insurance company picnic in Topeka Kansas in the 1970s, PLUS THE LEGO MOVIE WASN’T NOMINATED FOR ANIMATED FEATURE. Okay, to be fair, it looks like all of the actress and supporting actress nominees are women this year, so that’s progress, right? And actually, aren’t these “actor” and “actress” categories a little discriminatory in our newly found “post gender” world? Why not just nominate 10 people in each category, regardless of sex or gender, race or creed, and see what happens? Or why not get creative with the categories, we could have a “men with the nicest beard” category, or “lady with the nicest smile” category. I’d like to vote on that. (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence get my vote in each category. Jennifer in the smile category, obvs, although why couldn’t the Coops be in the beard and the smile category at the same time? and who’s to say that Jenny Law couldn’t grow a nice beard if she took the right hormones. I mean, she can do anything!) But I’m getting off topic here. Getting back to Selma: I haven’t seen it. I checked out a “Sisters of Selma” PBS documentary from the library, but I haven’t watched it either. I’d like to, though.

Bearded AND Smiling. Don't ever change, Coops!

Bearded AND Smiling. Don’t ever change, Coops!

 

Whiplash

All I know is that J.K. Simmons is winning all kinds of awards for his role as a music teacher in this movie about a music teacher who teaches music to a boy called WHIPLASH. I suppose it’s a prequel to the Iron Man movies, which I think is the first time that a movie from the Marvel Universe has been nominated for a best picture. I bet Stan Lee has a cameo as the school’s cranky janitor. Will the post credits scene give us any insight into the upcoming Inhumans movie? Will we get a cameo from Agent Coulson or Nick Fury? I hate when they cast the same actor in different roles in the same universe, and they’ve done that again since J.K. Simmons played J. Jonah Jameson in those Sony Sam Raimi movies, but I guess they don’t really count because Sony owns the rights? I guess that’s how they get around Chris Evans playing the Human Torch in those terrible Fantastic Four movies and also playing Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America in those excellent Captain America movies. I wish those Fantastic Four movies were never made, but just today I see a teaser trailer for some new Fantastic Four movie was released and it doesn’t look terrible.

I don't know WHAT happened at that music school to produce THIS.

I don’t know WHAT happened at that music school to produce THIS.

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Oscar Preview 2014

This Sunday night is the 86th Academy Awards, known to you and me as “The Oscars”. A little while ago I wrote a panicky blog post despairing over the fact that I had only seen one of the nine nominated films for Best Picture. The blog post was really just a little pep talk to myself, telling me that it was okay that I hadn’t seen more of these films, and to just CALM THE HELL DOWN. Which  I did. And I’m happy to report that I’ve now since DOUBLED the number of Oscar nominees viewed, so I’m half-way there people! (I’m not that great at the maths.) I’ve also ordered all of the best picture nominees through my connections at the library, so I’ll be viewing them in the comfort and privacy of my living room in the near future, pants optional!

Having said all that, we pulled ourselves out of our funk here at the MBM offices, stuck on a clean shirt and brushed our teeth, and now we are ready to run down the nine nominees as you get ready to make your Oscar predictions this weekend. We bring you the OUTSIDE SCOOP.

Philomena

You've just been PHILOMENAED!

You’ve just been PHILOMENAED!

Sir Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench play fictional versions of themselves as they tour around little hotels and pubs in the north of England. The best scene in this movie is when the two leads try to outdo each other’s Sean Connery impressions. Delightful!

Gravity

"Gravity may bring you down, but Hope Floats."

“Gravity may bring you down, but Hope Floats.”

ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOVIES I SAW. Last October. I’m happy to report that I was a real man about it and watched it not only in 3D but in IMAX 3D. The only enhancement we didn’t go for was the “D-Box” technology. Were you aware of it? A row of seats in some theatres are rigged up so that at certain exciting points of the movie the seats will actually shake, rumble and vibrate. We were actually sitting a row in front of these “D-Box” seats and I could STILL feel a slight rumble at certain parts. I think you can control the intensity with a dial on each seat, but if you actually pay the extra $10, why wouldn’t you want to have it cranked to a 10, despite its vomit or orgasm inducing consequences (or both!). Gosh, what would that be like? A pukegasm? No thanks, friend.  All I know is that I sat in these seats for Blue Jasmine and they only rumbled when Louis C.K. was on the screen. What’s THAT all about?

12 Years a Slave

"Before he spent Seven Years in Tibet, he was Twelve Years a Slave."

“Before he spent Seven Years in Tibet, he was Twelve Years a Slave.”

Speaking of vomiting, I haven’t seen this film, but my brother-in-law and his girlfriend saw this Brad Pitt vehicle back in October. They were a ways into the movie when the guy in front of them leaned over and PUKED IN THE AISLE. (No, he wasn’t in a D-Box seat, everybody!). The guy could not stop puking and they actually stopped the movie and put the lights up and made the classic call, “Is there a doctor in the house?” and sure enough there WAS. And the doctor checked him out and apparently he ate some questionable clams before the movie which made me already queasy, and apparently there is a quite a graphic scene of torture near the beginning of the movie that set this guy off. Well, they cleaned up the puke, ushered the guy out, apologized to the theatre (no offer of free passes, though, which kind of sucks) and then they BACKED THE MOVIE UP ABOUT 5 MINUTES, so everyone had to sit through the violent torture scene again, but this time you had the added bonus of puke/bleach in the air. Despite all that, they enjoyed the film and on that note alone it is my pick for Best Picture. (Although I’d rather be having orgasms in Gravity than puking in 12 years, but that’s just me.)

Captain Phillips

"The cah is pahked in the yahd."

“The cah is pahked in the yahd.”

Paul Greengrass is known to pay remarkable attention to detail when he makes “based on true events” kinds of movies. For example, when he and his producers decided to make United 93, the story of one of the doomed flights on 9/11 (the one that crashed in Pennsylvania) they decided they would only make it if they got permission from the families of every passenger on the flight. (I’m assuming this didn’t include the terrorists). This process took years, and when they finally got the permissions, they wanted to portray each character as accurately as possible, discussing with the family things like “would your husband have been reading the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal” or “would your son have been into Marvel or DC comics”, and then tried to make sure that each passenger was given an appropriate look that would ring true for the families. Having said all this, I can only assume that the real Captain Phillips, captain of the hijacked Maersk Alabama, has an unconvincing Boston accent in real life too.

Dallas Buyers Club

You guys don't mind if I take off this shirt, do you? It's awfully tight.

You guys don’t mind if I take off this shirt, do you? It’s awfully tight.

People are talking about the wonderful performances of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in this film, but this story about one man’s fight to get access to outlawed AIDS medication is not without its controversy. For example, Matthew McConaughey did not actually lose all that weight for the role, he just wore baggier clothes. And some people were upset that they didn’t cast an actual transgendered person in Jared Leto’s role. That reminds me of the flack that the producers of Glee got when they cast that able-bodied Woody Alleny looking chap in the role of that fellow in the wheelchair. And remember all the fuss when people hoped they would cast an actual black man to play Ray Charles, but they went with Jamie Foxx instead? Oh, Hollywood! I don’t know about you, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing this movie, and I’ve heard that it was such a success that they are already working on a sequel, tentatively titled, “Houston Buyers Club”. I smell a franchise, baby!

Nebraska

Nebraska!

Nebraska!

I know ZERO about this movie, except that it has that MacGruber guy in it, it’s shot in black and white, and it’s from Alexander Payne. I’m all over the map with Alexander Payne. I liked Citizen Ruth and Election. Skipped About Schmidt. LOVED Sideways and HATED The Descendents. So who knows? I went to see Inside Llewyn Davis over the holidays, and I turned to my friend 5 minutes in and said, “I thought this was in black in white”. and he corrected me. “You’re thinking of Nebraska.” Was I? I just hope you get to set a lot of corn. #cornwatch2014

American Hustle

Everyone Hustle to Survive

Everyone Hustle to Survive

I’ve wanted to see this one ever since it was released on Christmas Day, but just haven’t made the time for it. David O. Russell is a little like Alexander Payne for me, in the sense that I’ve had an uneven history with his films. Here’s the quick low down: Didn’t see Spanking the Monkey (sounded painful), hated Flirting with Disaster (but to be fair it starred Ben Stiller), loved Three Kings when I originally saw it in the theatre with my Mom, but when I saw it more recently on TV with my wife I was APPALLED at how violent it was. I thought I Heart Huckabees was trying too hard, but there is that wonderful footage of Lily Tomlin yelling on set, so we’ll always have that. The Fighter did nothing for me, but Silver Linings Playbook was my favourite movie from last year. So I don’t know what to think of American Hustle. It has some of the cast of SLPB with the addition of Amy Adams’ boobies (yay!) and serious Batman guy’s gut (meh), so it’s a real mixed bag! I’m thinking an interesting double feature will be to watch this movie and The Sting in the same evening. Both are heist movies, but the The Sting was filmed in the 1970’s but took place in the 1920’s. American Hustle was filmed recently but took place in the 1970’s (I think), so: connections.

Her

Everytime I saw the poster, I thought of Dave Stieb

Everytime I saw the poster, I thought of Dave Stieb

THE SECOND MOVIE IN THIS LIST THAT I’VE ACTUALLY SEEN. I had a feeling I’d like this one, and I did. Spike Jonze has a wonderful way of taking a simple idea and riffing on it over the length of a film. I was super skeptical of anyone trying to adapt Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are into a movie a few years ago. I mean, the book is like 8 pages long and there are like 10 lines of text (I’m guessing here, but I welcome your corrective emails). I was afraid that it would super shitty like all those Dr. Seuss adaptations, but it was such a great movie, thanks to Spike Jonze.  I could just watch it again and again, and I’ll admit something here: (I’m not that huge a fan of the original book, so I didn’t really have a vested interest in it turning out well). So it goes with Her. In the near future, a man downloads a new operating system (think Suri from Apple, but voiced by Scarlett Johansen), and slowly develops a close relationship with it, and eventually falls in love. It’s sort of a traditional love story in some ways, except that the dude is making it with his phone. But this description is sort of short-changing the experience of watching it. It leaves you with so many feelings, and I was thinking about this movie for days afterwards, which doesn’t happen all that often.

The Wolf of Wall Street

"Money was only the Beginning"

“Money was only the Beginning”

When Wes Anderson released his debut film Bottle Rocket in 1996, Martin Scorsese was one of the first directors to recognize Mr. Anderson’s brilliance and hailed him as the next big thing. Interesting that things have come full circle, with Scorsese filming a live action remake of Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox. and calling it The Wolf of Wall Street! I’m not sure why they changed the main character from a fox to a wolf, and got Leonardo instead of Clooney, but those are artistic decisions best left to closed-door meetings between Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker. Word on the street was that Anderson was so taken with this loving homage, that his next project will be a remake of Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, with Bill Murray in the Jerry Lewis role and Jason Schwartzman in the Robert DeNiro role. Oh Hollywood!

Enjoy the Oscars, everyone!

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Oscar Run Down

Well, here we are at that time of year again. Awards season. We feel a little extra buzz around the Mountains Beyond Mountains offices this time of year when those screeners start showing up in the mail, and we get to watch all the Oscar contenders and make informed choices when we cast our votes for the Academy…..wait. That’s not right. We aren’t members of the Academy, we’re not even members of what any reasonable person would call “the media”. We’re much more (and less) than that. We’re an internet connection with insidious intent. (and sadly that job description does not qualify us for screeners). So that means going out and seeing these movies on our own  “time and dime” as the kids like to say. [editors note: this is not a saying that “kids” nor any other demographic use, or have used in the past, nor will probably use in the future.]

But that’s crazy. How is a guy like me going to get out and see 9 movies before March 2? It’s a varied group this year, and if you take the “Award Nominee” status away from them, there’s really only three that I’d actually probably be interested in seeing. Gravity, American Hustle and Her. And I’ve already seen Gravity back in October before there was any awards talk, so I guess that leaves 8 movies, 6 of whom I really don’t care about.

But you know, I come by it honestly. Even back in the day when there were only 5 best picture nominations, there were many years where I couldn’t get out to see all of them.

For example, just taking the last 20 years worth of best picture nominations, here are some of the movies I still have not seen.

The English Patient, Shine, Secrets and Lies (1995)

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

The Insider (1999)

In the Bedroom (2001)

Chicago (2002) -I had to turn it off after the first 10 minutes as it was making me sick to my stomach.

Seabiscuit (2003)

Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

There will be Blood (2007) -I had to turn it off after the first 10 minutes as it was making my wife sick to her stomach.

In 2009 the Academy changed how they nominated films for the Best Picture category, so you could get as many as 10 in a year, and this is where I really fall down.

The Hurt Locker, Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, Precious, A Serious Man (2009)

Black Swan, The Kids are Alright, Winter’s Bone (2010)

The Artist, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Tree of Life, War Horse (2011)

Les Miserables (2012) -I had to turn it off at the half-way point because it was making both me and my wife sick to our stomachs.

And you know, looking over this list of unwatched Best Picture nominees over the last 20 years, the only one that I think I’d probably sit down and watch now would be “The English Patient”. I wanted to see it when it came out but it just slipped through the cracks. I even owned the soundtrack, so that’s weird right? Why I never borrowed it from the library all these years is a mystery.

I think I’d like to give “There will be Blood” another go, maybe when my wife has gone off to bed and I’ve watched all of “Oz” or something. I’ve heard good things, and maybe I’ll finally understand that “milkshake” quote that I’ve heard bandied about.

When it comes down to it, movies should be entertaining, and not feel like homework. I’m not saying that movies shouldn’t move you, or make you angry, or cry, or think. The best ones might do all of these things, but sometimes I just feel like a good laugh,  or see some ‘splosions, or get caught up in a small, simple story for an hour or two.

So yeah, I’m okay with that track record, but I also know that there is a full month before Oscar night, and I may just get out and see one or two more of these movies before then, so maybe I should hold off on my annual “Oscar Run Down” until we are a bit closer. I think that works. And who knows, maybe we’ll get the odd screener sent our way?

How about it, Hollywood types? Can this blog get on a list or something? Weinsteins, you reading this?

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And the Oscar goes to…

At the end of February, it will be Oscar night, and in what is soon becoming an annual tradition here at Mountains Beyond Mountains, we’ve written up our annual Oscar Preview. I’m on par with other years in terms of what I’ve seen so far (I’ve seen three), but there are five others still in theatres so I could potentially see 8 of the 9 quite easily before the big night. Still, like other years, it doesn’t stop me from coming up with snarky things to say about the nominees, whether I’ve seen them or not.

Let’s get right to it.

Amour

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From what I can tell from the poster and what little I’ve actually learned about this movie, it is about old people falling in love and having sex. Now I’m all for old people falling in love, but good LORD do they have to have sex? How about some nice cuddles? Or maybe a hug? Maybe they could do something nice and thoughtful for each other, like bake cookies or something. I’d pay money to see that, but no sex please.

Argo

Another candidate for my "Men with nice beards" Tumblr!

Another candidate for my “Men with nice beards” Tumblr!

Despite my inherent dislike of Ben Affleck, I really want to see this movie. I wanted to see it way back last summer when I saw the trailer for the first time, but forces beyond my control have prevented me from seeing it so far, and eventually my dislike of Ben Affleck will win out and I never will see it. Which is a shame, because I think I’d like it, just like I think I would like “The Town” but am avoiding it for the same reasons. It’s got the Affleck taint all over it. #taint

Beasts of the Southern Wild

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I actually saw this one a few weeks ago! The library had a copy checked in and I took it home. What can I say? Whenever my Mom sees a movie that she doesn’t like but she feels like she should like it, she calls it a discussion movie. I think this is a discussion movie for me. I have no idea how this movie even caught the attention of Oscar voters, but I’m kind of glad it’s in there among the big ones, if only to be a reminder that not every nominated film has to be a big budget spectacle. I didn’t hate it, but I’m not sure it was my kind of thing. I’m trying to come up with something funny or snarky to say about it, but I’m at a loss. Yay for the underdog?

Django Unchained

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I saw this movie over the Christmas holidays with my friend, Ed. It was his birthday and we sort of have a tradition of getting together and doing fun things, like going to get a free comic at this one shop in town that lets you pick out a free comic on your birthday, or go out to some “all you can eat” restaurant and literally eat all we can, or check out a movie. These days, with us both having small children, we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like, and we were joking that the only free time we had was at 10:30 pm on a week night. So that’s what we did! We went to see this movie at 10:30 pm on a Thursday. We chose this one because we knew there was NO WAY IN HELL either of our respective wives would ever want to see it , and we were right. We were just so excited that we were actually out at a movie together, that I think we enjoyed this way more than we would have under normal circumstances. This movie was a real mixed bag for me. There were scenes and moments, particularly in the first three quarters, that I totally loved. The opening scene where Django gets unchained, the whole “team up as bounty hunters” thing, and the whole “launching the plot to get his wife back” thing were all wonderful. Sadly, it was only when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character was introduced that the film seemed to drag, and everything after the “dinner party” scene just got deranged, overblown, and almonst ruined the rest of it for me.

Les Miserables

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I HAVE NOT SEEN THIS, and yet I am quite sure it will win.  I am sure it is wonderful and deserves all the good press it’s getting. I’m happy that a musical is nominated for best picture this year. It’s been a while. There is something special about musicals, and I think you either “get” them or you don’t. Some people just can’t get over the fact that the characters will burst into song without warning. But I say to those people: it’s just what happens. It’s a MUSICAL. I’m not saying you have to like it, but don’t hate it just because that’s the form it’s in. My only complaint is that it has taken so long for this musical to be made into a movie. I remember about 15 years ago getting excited when a feature film version of “Les Miserables” was in production. It was going to star about bunch of A List actors like Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman. I couldn’t wait, until I found out that it wasn’t based on the muscial, but an adapation of the original novel. I was bitterly disappointed at the time, and still haven’t brought myself to ever watch it. What’s the point? It would be like doing a non-musical version of  “Annie”.

Life of Pi

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Another one I haven’t seen, although you have to hand it to Ang Lee: that dude knows his way around a movie camera. His films, from “Sense and Sensibility” to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, to “Brokeback Mountain” all have a stunning visual quality to them, and I’m sure “The Life of Pi” is no different. I read the novel years ago, when everyone was going on about it. I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember I didn’t care for it. It was a real slog and in the end everything you’ve just read (SPOILER) may or may not have even happened that way. It was a bit of a kick to the balls, I must say, and considering this movie is mostly playing in 3D, it would be a kick to the eyeballs too. I’ll pass.

Lincoln

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Spielberg’s “Lincoln” project seemed to be “on again, off again” for years. I remember all the way back to 2005 when his “War of the Worlds” came out that Spielberg was talking about getting his “Lincoln” project off the ground. And boy did he ever. A stellar cast led by Daniel Day Lewis, this is definitely on my “to see” list. I love stories about historical figures, especially stories about American Presidents. You always learn something you didn’t know before. For example, I just watched “Hyde Park on Hudson” with Bill Murray as FDR. All I knew about FDR before this was that he met with Annie and Daddy Warbucks and sung “Tomorrow” with his wife Eleanor. From “Hyde Park on Hudson” I learned that FDR enjoyed eating hot dogs and receiving hand jobs from his cousin (but not at the same time)! Oh, and also that his wife Eleanor lived with a group of lesbian furniture makers and made lovely lesbian furniture. I could relate.

Recurring Theme

Recurring Theme

Silver Linings Playbook

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I’m just going to say right up front that I am “no friend” of Bradley Cooper, and that I had very little interest in seeing this movie. The title is confusing, it has boringface Julia Stiles in it, and it seemed to be on the wrong side of quirky for me. The other night we were out at the movies, and our choices were “Les Miz”, “Lincoln” or this one. I would have been happy with either of the first two, but “Silver Linings Playbook” was the only one that hadn’t yet started, so in we went.

Boy, was I WRONG. I will freely admit it. This turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. I’m going to gush here for a bit, so fair warning.

I LOVED everything about this movie. Bradley Cooper (I will no longer call him Bradley Pooper) was brilliantly adorable, as was Jennifer Lawrence. You really want to root for the two of them, and the movie pushed all the right buttons for me. It says a lot about the strength of the cast when Robert De Niro, although great, does not outshine everyone else. Whenever you see him you’re not thinking, “It’s Robert fucking De Niro!” You just see him as this blue collar dad who’s worried about his son and is doing the best he can. I could TOTALLY relate to those scenes where he’s trying to get Bradley Cooper’s character to sit down and watch the game with him. That was me and my Dad for real. That’s the other thing: the dialogue felt very real and raw to me. It all felt very natural, and I’m wondering how much of it was scripted and how much of it was the actors ad-libbing on set.

I think it helped that I didn’t know a thing about the movie going in. I just let the story work its magic on me, like when you finally find out that Daddy Warbucks is going to adopt Annie for realz!

The writer/director, David O. Russell, is a master at choosing the right musical cues for the right scenes. I still remember the soundtrack for “Three Kings”, and the way he used U2’s “In God’s Country” at the end of it. In “Silver Linings Playbook” he uses Dave Brubeck in two scenes to great effect.

Personally, I want this movie to win EVERYTHING, and I will need to be careful when I fill in my Oscar ballot that I don’t let that cloud my choices.

I’m not usually one to want to see a movie again, but I could SERIOUSLY go see this movie again in the theatre, and again, and again. That’s how much I loved it.

Zero Dark Thirty

The controversies surrounding this film just won't go away.

The controversies surrounding this film just won’t go away.

Well, I guess I tipped my hand as to which movie I’ll be pulling for come Oscar night, but I still need to finish this list. I think I’d like to see this movie, the same way I want to see anything by Gaspar Noe: I think it would be satisfying on a morbidly voyeuristic level. Technically, I’m sure the movie is finely crafted. Her last effort won Best Picture. I haven’t brought myself to see it, because spending a couple of hours with an army bomb squad in Iraq seems a little too stressful, like watching Annie get kidnapped by Rooster and Bernadette Peters.

But I’ve seen a number of Kathryn Bigelow movies over the years, and I’ve enjoyed all of them in their own way.

I remember seeing “Point Break” the summer that I taught myself how to windsurf, and so I felt like I had a connection, however tenuous, to the bank-robbing surfers. It was the summer my Dad died, and I just thought this was something I wanted to do. I spent a weekend at a friend’s cottage and his Dad was a windsurfer. He showed me the basics and then left me to it. I remember falling off that board so many times, and scraping my knees to the point that they bled and getting terribly sunburnt, but I didn’t give up until I could actually manoeuvre the damn thing with some small level of skill. I wasn’t going to be doing any tricks (or robbing any banks) any time soon, but I felt a certain level of accomplishment.

“Strange Days” still ranks up near the top as one of my favourite science fiction movies, and she does things visually in that movie that I’ve never seen done since.

I feel like I have a special connection to “K-19: The Widowmaker”, as part of the movie was filmed in a small town about an hour north of where I live. It was big news at the time. The film crew descended on this sleepy town on the edge of Lake Winnipeg for about a week to film one scene. It was the scene where the submarine surfaces through the ice near the north pole. The soldiers are given some R&R time to play soccer on the ice. The captain, played by Harrison Ford, addresses the crew from the sub’s tower. This whole scene takes up about 2 minutes of screen time, but it’s impact feels much bigger. I happened to be off work one morning when they were filming, and I thought I’d drive up and see what I could see. My Mom, always up for an adventure, called in sick to work and came along. Marla was working and didn’t come, but her MOM did.

The three of us headed up, wondering what we would see. It was actually pretty cool. The movie crew had built a full sized conning tower about 300 feet off shore on the ice. You could tell from the angle that it was just a backdrop (you could see the scaffolding behind it), but from head on it looked like the real thing. When we got there, it was lunch time for the crew, and the local hotel had the catering contract. The film crew had built an ice road from the shore out to the set, and there was a constant flow of ATVs, jeeps and full sized trucks back and forth. This was March, and I was wondering how thick that ice actually was, but I’m sure it was all checked out ahead of time. The big prize would be to spot Harrison Ford, obviously. He had arrived the night before and was probably out there near the set somewhere, or maybe he was up in one of the hotel rooms and he would walk through the lobby any second! We ended up having lunch at the hotel, and looking out over the set. We were far enough out that we couldn’t really see what was actually happening, although we could see a bunch of young guys with shaved heads (Russian sailors, no doubt), kicking a soccer ball around out in the cold. We couldn’t tell if they were rehearsing or actually filming, but it didn’t really matter. It was just cool to be “close to the action”. I assume Kathryn Bigelow was there too; I doubt this was all second unit work, but we never spotted her and more importantly, we never spotted Harrison either. But it was a fun way to spend a day off, and when the movie came out my Mom and I went opening night. We stayed until we say the “Special Thanks to Gimli, Manitoba” credit at the end.

Hollywood North.

Hollywood North.

So you have it: a rundown of the best picture nominations of 2013. If Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t win Best Picture, it’ll just be a reminder that it’s a hard knock life.

Til next time, amigos!

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Oscar

The Artist is simply a delight!” Everyone who has seen The Artist.

We’re just a week away from the 84th Academy Awards, so it’s time to talk about the Oscars. It’s the only awards show that really matters to me. It’s the flag-ship, the “Survivor” of awards shows if you will. And hey look! They even have Billy Crystal hosting ever since the producer Brett Ratner quit after making homophobic comments to the media. This prompted Ratner’s host, Eddie Murphy to quit as well. We all got the feeling that Eddie Murphy never really wanted to host the awards in the first place, and  that this was a good excuse for him to back out, which is too bad because it would have been the closest thing to an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine in about twenty years. I like Billy Crystal, but he seems like the safe, obvious choice. Don’t you get the feeling that the Academy has been keeping Billy Crystal in a glass box these past few years with a label saying “Break Glass in Case of Emergency!”?

Just so you know, nobody knows how the Academy decides which movies get nominated. They may publish a complicated formula on their website, but it’s all lies. They went from a manageable 5 best picture nominations up to 10 a couple of years ago. This really just meant that movies like “District 9” and “Winter’s Bone” could stick a “Best Picture Nominee” on their DVD boxes. This year, just to fuck with us, the Academy has nominated 9 movies for Best Picture. You can use Roger Ebert’s trick and look to see which Best Picture nominees also have nominations for Best Director. His point is that a movie shouldn’t ever win if it’s director isn’t nominated either. The only movies you need to concern yourself with then, are “The Artist”, “The Descendants”, “Hugo”, “The Tree of Life “and “Midnight in Paris”.

Nevertheless, let’s look at all nine.

Just like last year, I haven’t seen all the pictures, but that sure doesn’t disqualify me from telling you what I think about every one. When you work in a library, you get used to recommending or panning books without ever actually reading them (true story) so why should movies be any different?

Let’s start with the ones I haven’t seen.

The Descendants

I know several people who have seen this one, and none have really come out and said that they loved it. Some people outright hated it, some cried all the way through, and others “quite liked it”. I’m a big fan of Election and Sideways, two of Alexander Payne’s other movies, so I’m definitely interested in seeing this one, eventually. Also who doesn’t love George Clooney? One thing I keep hearing is that the “scenery is pretty” because its filmed in Hawaii. Well, the scenery is pretty in “The Thin Red Line” too but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie. Speaking of Terrence Malick films…

The Tree of Life

There is no bloody way you’re going to get me to sit through this one.

War Horse

I’m sorry, but the wrong Spielberg movie got nominated this year. “The Adventures of Tintin” was innovative and fun and hit all the right notes, but didn’t even get an animation nomination? What DID get nominated? Rango was okay. I never saw Kung Fu Panda 1, let alone number 2, and a couple of weird European movies no one’s ever heard of? Come ON.

Anyway, War Horse is the story of a really smart horse who falls in with a bunch of stupid humans. That horse gets sent off to World War 1 and despite being put in harm’s way numerous times, always comes out safe the other side. Maybe the horse isn’t so smart as it is lucky. Not only that, but after the war ends he enlists AGAIN and fights Nazis in WWII. He then becomes a spy and provides valuable information to the British during the Cold War. He gets sent to Korea and later fights in Vietnam. He then retires to Montana where he gets molested by Robert Redford and Scarlet Johannsen. The horse then COMES OUT OF RETIREMENT and somehow gets beamed up to Mars and helps John Carter and Dejah Thoris fight aliens up there. That is one lucky horse. I used to have a goldfish called “Ish” when I was a kid, and that fish lived for years. My wife think that my parents just kept replacing Ish with a different fish every time it died. I don’t think so, but if that’s true that’s a shitty thing to do to a kid. I kinda think that’s what they did in War Horse. They just kept changing the horse and pretending it was the same one. Especially the one on Mars.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I tried reading the novel on which this movie is based. Although I liked the premise, the book was just too difficult to read. It’s written in the voice of the main character, nine-year old Oskar, who happens to have some ill-defined disability. I gave up on the book around page 70 and have no real desire to see this movie. Plus, everyone knows that “United 93” is the best movie made about 9/11 and we should just leave it at that.

The Artist

You're getting sleepy. SLEEPY...

The Artist is a silent movie from France that is sweeping the nation garnering awards left and right. Every one who sees this movie can’t say enough good things about it. The reason for this, of course, is that the movie isn’t actually silent. That’s right. The movie is using it’s silent format to transmit subliminal messages and feelings of “enjoyment” and “contentment” to unsuspecting audience members. The U.S. Army has been working on this for years, but it took the sneaky French to bring it to the masses. This is incredibly unethical and possibly illegal, and so I urge those of you who have not yet seen this film to AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. If you are still skeptical, let me tell you that as I typed this blog-post and imported poster images, the entire blog-post was deleted at the very moment I imported the poster art for “The Artist”. I’ve had to completely type this post again from scratch (the things I DO for you people) and this time I’ve saving it after every sentence. Coincidence? I think NOT.

So let’s get on to the movies I actually saw last year.

The Help

I enjoyed this movie about the relationships between black maids and their white socialite employers in 1960’s Mississippi. It’s the type of movie you’d expect to be nominated for Best Picture and definitely belongs in the list. It’s just that there isn’t anything that I really LOVED about this movie. It kinda reminded me of “Fried Green Tomatoes” although this movie sadly does not open with Chris O’Donnell getting hit by a train. You know, every movie should open with Chris O’Donnell getting hit by a train.

Moneyball

Anyone who reads this blog and who knows me at all knows that I love baseball and baseball movies. It’s a cliche to say that baseball is chock full of allegories that can apply to life, but the game just seems to lend itself well to storytelling. When I saw this movie last fall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I wasn’t sure if it would be loved by those who fall outside the “baseball” and “baseball movie” loving public. I’m pleased to see it’s getting so much attention. I love that Jonah Hill is nominated for supporting actor and that he’s up against a bunch of old white guys. Christopher Plummer is the favourite in that category, but I would be so happy to see Jonah Hill win this. It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball, or baseball movies for that matter.

Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams with the newly cloned Woody Allen 2.0

I love Woody Allen. I love Owen Wilson. I love that Owen Wilson was in a Woody Allen movie. I wish science would get it’s act together and clone Woody Allen so that we’d be guaranteed a new Woody Allen movie every year from now until the sun explodes. Lord knows they haven’t all been good, but most of them are watchable and sometimes one comes along that is just so charming and lovely that it rises about the “Woody Allen movie” pigeon hole. “Midnight in Paris” is one of those movies. You just need to see it. And how wonderful is it to see Owen Wilson back in movies, after nearly losing him to suicide a couple of years ago?

Hugo

Martin Scorsese takes on 3D. Martin Scorsese pays homage to the origins of film. Oh, and it’s also a kid’s movie. I actually put aside my temporary boycott of 3D just to see what Mr. Scorsese did with it, and I wasn’t disappointed. I had read “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” when it came out and marveled at the way it told it’s story through a unique use of words and pictures. Scorsese makes the most of the Paris Railway station where much of the action takes place, and the 3D really felt like it was an important part of the storytelling, not just a gimmick to make you blink. Even though I fear “The Artist” will win Best Picture this year, my heart is with “Hugo”.

How will it all go down?

It’s interesting that Best Picture will probably come down to a showdown between “Hugo” and “The Artist”: two movies that take as its subject the early days of film. One film explores the joy and wonder of movies through the eyes of two young friends who are on an adventure. The other is a gimmicky, manipulative piece of trash that uses subliminal psychotropic methods to force you to love it. Both have well-trained dogs, however. Why not just bring the dogs from each movie out on the stage, Michael Vick style, and see what happens? The last dog standing wins the Oscar. I would totally go for that, because I’m sure Hugo’s dog would totally kick The Artist’s dog’s ass.

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It’s a wundaful night for Oscar

I love the Oscars. It’s probably the only awards show that I always make a point of watching, and I can only remember one year in the past ten that I missed it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what happens, does it? The movies I enjoyed last year are still enjoyable whether they win anything or not, and just because something wins “best picture” doesn’t change anything in the movie itself. Having said that, there is something fun about pulling for the movies you loved, booing the movies you hated and generally taking in all the glamour and glitz that the evening has to offer. It’s even more fun to watch the evening unfold with a group of like-minded friends. I’m looking forward to Sunday night with a group of friends who also enjoy all the fun and stupidity of the Oscars. In preparation, I thought I’d run down the list of the ten nominees and give my two cents on each of them. I don’t think it really matters that I’ve only seen three of them. Working in  a library, I’m used to suggesting books that I’ve never opened. There is a misconception out there that librarians get to read all day. I wish that were the case. Wouldn’t that just be the best job in the world? We actually don’t get any “on the job” time to read anything. All of that is on our own time, like everyone else. I like to tell people that I am familiar with the covers of all the new books, and the dust-jacket description if I’m really lucky. Having said that, I am trying to read “a book a week” or thereabouts this year, which would mean I knock off about 50 titles this year. Not sure if I can keep up the pace, but its a goal. One of my secrets: choose short books! (Enjoying Jack Kerouac’s “The Subterraneans” at only 120 pages right now!)

But enough of all that. On to the Movies…

And the nominees are…

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s movies are loved by the Oscars. Last year’s “The Wrestler” case in point. I’ve only seen his “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream” both of which are really hard to watch for different reasons. I put him in the same boat as Paul Thomas Anderson Vincent Cassel always seems to go for the pervy roles, and I’ve got a feeling this movie is no different. I have a feeling I wouldn’t like this film, and if you have a hankering for a good ballet inspired drama, try Robert Altman’s The Company or Powell and Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes” instead.

The Fighter

Boxing movies have had a history of doing well at the Oscars. “On the waterfront”, “Rocky” “Million Dollar Baby” and “When we were Kings” come to mind. I absolutely loved David O. Russell’s “Three Kings” but didn’t get “I heart Huckabees”, so I don’t know what I’d make of this movie.

Inception

Just watched this last night. Holy crap what a horrible movie. Christopher Nolan: you’ll always hold a special place in my heart for what you’ve done with the Batman franchise, but good lord what the hell was this all about? About three quarters of the way through the movie I turned to my wife and said “I officially don’t care what happens to any of these characters at this point”. I love science fiction, but I hate when science fiction sets up its own rules within the context of the story and proceeds to not follow them. Maybe I’m a stickler, but when they  said Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character has only two minutes to complete his task, there is no way he could break into that hotel room, round up all those bodies, get them down the hallway into the elevator in zero gravity and then diddle with the elevator to make it drop. That was at least a 10 minute job. And I know time is different in dreams, but damn watching that van fall off the bridge was tedious. Michael Caine looked more bored than he did in “Jaws 4 The Revenge” and any movie that has depictions of suicide upset me without exception. To summarize: an awesome cast wasted.

The Kids are All Right

Haven’t seen this one, but since I love Julianne Moore, Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo and I like everything I’ve heard about it, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it when I do.

The King’s Speech

My favourite movie of the year, and my hope for best picture winner. When I think of my favourite movies, most of them are made up of excellent moments, and “The King’s Speech” is filled from top to bottom with great “moments”. It was the first movie in a long time where the audience erupted into spontaneous applause at the end, a story I’ve heard repeated by others who have seen the movie. Also, it was just about the only movie I saw in a  theatre last year, so I think I would have enjoyed anything.

127 Hours

So Danny Boyle follows up “Slumdog Millionaire” by sticking James Franco under a boulder and making him cut off his arm and eat it? Okay, maybe he doesn’t eat it, but the rest is true. There’s nothing about this that makes me want to see it, even though the soundtrack looks good. Is this the first time in Oscar history that a host has also been a nominee?

Toy Story 3

Since this is nominated in the “Best Animated Feature” category as well, I think we can safely assume it will win there and not here. In fact, I think movies nominated in the animated category shouldn’t be eligible for the best picture category. What’s the point? I love the first two installments (who doesn’t?) but haven’t brought myself to see this third one. I hear it’s terribly sad in parts, and sometimes I find sad animated films harder to watch that live action ones. I’m not ashamed to admit I sobbed through the prologue of “Up” ( Pixar version not the Russ Meyer one), and to this point I haven’t felt the need to seek out something sad on purpose. Sad things seem to find me quite well on their own.

True Grit

I love the Coen brothers. I read this novel just before Christmas and even though it was written in the 1960’s the dialogue and situations seemed to be written expressly for the Coens themselves. I can’t wait to see this, and maybe even before Sunday. Love live “LA BEEF”.

The Social Network

This movie has alot going for it. David Fincher brings all his experience and skill to bear in telling the personal stories of the creation of Facebook. The screenplay by Aaron Sorkin is crisp and economical, based on the book by Ben Mezrich. I’ve found Mezrich’s books in the past to be heavy on drama and light on facts, and this feeling makes it way into the Facebook story too. Aside from Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo, none of the characters seemed to be very likable and as a result, like everyone from Inception, I didn’t really care what happened to them.

Winter’s Bone

Okay. It’s great that with 10 nominees a no-name movie like this gets some recognition, but I have no desire to see it. Take a look at this poster. It looks and feels depressing. Even the  title has two depressing words in it: Winter and Bone. Thank you, no.

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