Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Feb revivals: first half

Hi all. Mike here with a list of what to catch in the first half of Feb. I know I got carried away with the photos. But I liked some of them and once I got going, I didn't want to ignore the films I REALLY wanted to catch. And I know some of them conflict, but like I said before, not my problem unless someone really wants to catch something. A problem I rarely have, so here we go:

THE MISSION- Thurs Feb 1 at 6- MOMA- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. In time for his acceptance of an honorary Oscar, we have a retrospective of his best scores, and the films that came along with them. This is part of MOMA's, but the only one at MOMA that I'll have any possible time for. A Jesuit mission is founded in South America in the 18th Century. But once Spain sells the colony to Portugal, allowing the natives to be sold as slaves, 2 men who helped the mission are in conflict as to how to help resist. The priest who founded the mission (Jeremy Irons) is sticking to his vows, while a former mercenary (Robert De Niro) is trying to set up armed resistance.

7 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Director for Roland Joffe, and Score for Morricone; an Oscar for Cinematography. Was labeled as nothing more then Masterpiece Theater-esque at the time of its release by some, and was lost in the Oscar buzz and news in general by the dominating Platoon. But still worth catching. Also, Adian Quinn and Liam Neeson in early roles.

INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION- Fri Feb 2 at 7 and 9:30 and Sat Feb 3 at 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. In time for his acceptance of an honorary Oscar, we have a retrospective of his best scores, and Film Forum's last longer with choices as diverse as the films he worked on.

This is the first from the Forum's retrospective. Winner for Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1971, and nominated for its Screenplay in 1972. A famous detective from Rome, who specializes in cracking political dissidents, kills his mistress. He's put in charge of the murder investigation, but how much of his guilt and how much of his ego will come out? Obviously not a whodunit, but more of a whydunnit, with its heavy critique of police corruption.

This film is NOT available on DVD, is rarely played on American TV, and being screened in a new 35mm print. Never seen all of it, and would REALLY like to.

BATMAN- Fri Feb 2 and Sat Feb 3 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- The Tim Burton- Jack Nicholson version. Wouldn't put it above Batman Begins, but it's better then some Hollywood blockbusters today. It's Oscar winning art direction took the influences of Blade Runner and Brazil, and still managed to stand out on its own, with its decaying look of Gotham and impressive Batcave.

THE LAST WALTZ introduced by critic Thelma Adams- Sat Feb 3 at 4- AMMI in Astoria- Considered by some to be the best concert film ever made. After Taxi Driver, a change of pace for director Martin Scorsese, filming the farewell concert of The Band on Thanksgiving 1976. Mixed with recording sessions that also included working with Emmylou Harris and The Staples. They also had some friends performing with them, including Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Ron Wood, Dr. John, and Ringo Starr. Also includes interviews with members of the Band, days after the concert.

Also noteworthy is the cinematography of Michael Chapman, who also did Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. The first concert film to be photographed in 35mm. The film will be introduced by film critic Thelma Adams.

THE LION IN WINTER- Sat Feb 3 at 8 for 5 dollars- The Makor, Steinhardt Building, 35 W 67th St- Part of the Academy Awards®—You Be the Judge series. Never been to the Makor before, but very curious, considering this is a favorite of mine. They did a poll with people about what they thought was the best performances that deserved to win an Oscar, but didn't. Peter O'Toole's perf in the Lion in Winter was one of them. He plays the same role he did in Becket, King Henry II of England, but as an older man despite only aging 4 or 5 years himself. Henry wants to name his successor, and his scheming sons and plotting wife at times backstab each other, just to have the chance to curry favor or backstab Henry. Hardly the happiest Christmas Day movie you'll ever see, but definitely the bitchiest.

I've told some of you about films I watched a lot at home, back when we had a CED disc collection (bonus points and a possible free revival out of me for the one not named Bart who knows what I mean by CED discs). There were films I saw in heavy rotation, semi- heavy, and monthly. The Lion in Winter was one I tended to see seasonally; enough to enjoy without tiring of it.

Verbal fireworks from writer James Goldman (who adapted his play), played to terrific heights from O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Their scenes are the highlight of this film, and Kate probably was given the best lines of her career in this film. One of her better ones:

. . .even made poor Louis take me on Crusade. How's that for blasphemy. I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled.

Also featuring Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton in their screen debuts, as Richard the Lion-Hearted and King Louis II of France, respectively. 7 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Director, and O'Toole. 3 Oscars; for the Screenplay, Hepburn for Actress (Hepburn became the third performer to win consecutive awards, the first to win three awards for lead roles and tied with Barbara Streisand for Funny Girl that year.), and John Barry's terrific score. A note about Barry. It was considered a bit of surprise that someone known for light scores like the James Bond theme would get the gig, but he was friends with director Anthony Harvey. Barry's score just feels like it belongs in the Middle Ages, and I mean that in a good way.

Best of all about this: only 5 dollars a ticket. If you've never seen it, go. Go now. Let me repeat:

If you haven't seen it,


A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS- Wed Feb 7 at 3:50 and 7:30- Film Forum- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. The first of the spaghetti Westerns, the first of the Man With No Name movies and the first role to put Eastwood on the film map. A rip off of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, for which director Sergio Leone was sued. He claimed both films were The Servant of Two Masters, plus some deaths.That didn't fly, and I believe an out of court settlement was reached. Nevertheless, this is worth catching. Not as good as The Good The Bad and The Ugly (which will appear on the next list), but still pretty good.

MY DINNER WITH ANDRE and SHAFT(1971)- Thurs Feb 8 at 6(Andre) and 8:30(Shaft)- MOMA- A double feature at MOMA, contrasting 2 films that were made entirely in NYC. Yes, they did this on purpose at MOMA. It's not paying to see one film and walking over to see another. You go to see the Louis Malle talkfest with Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, and you stay for the Richard Roundtree blaxplotation classic. THIS IS INSANE, but I'm interested. Are you?

DEMON SEED- Fri Feb 9 at 9 and Sat Feb 10 at 1:15- Walter Reade theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the Donald Cammell retrospective, adapted from a Dean Koontz novel. An underrated sci-fi film that was a little ahead of its time in terms of computers and how they much use they are in our everyday lives. In the story, advances in artificial intelligence result in a computer more advanced then his creator expected. It's more interested in evolving then being taken over by the military, and will use his creator's wife (Julie Christie) against her will to do so. Christie is good, but Robert Vaughn stands out as the ominous voice of the computer, Proteus IV; he makes HAL 9000 sound like a benevolent choir boy in comparison.

One note from the filmlinc website about the film:
"We apologize in advance: the only existent 35mm print is slightly faded."

AMERICAN DREAM and SHUT UP AND SING, with pre and post film talks (depending on the film) with director Barbara Kopple- Sat Feb 10 at 4:30(American) and 7(Shut Up)- AMMI in Astoria- Part of the Critics Choice: Great Documentaries series. The liberal film network is on full effect with this pair of documentaries from director Barbara Kopple. All conservatives, run and hide, AMMI probable isn't the place where you want to be considered the enemy on this day.

First, American Dream, Oscar winner for Best Documentary. It covers how a small Minnesota town is ripped apart, due to a prolonged strike of a Hormel meat packing plant. The executives are not shown in a positive light to say the least. Michael Moore showed the GM executives in Roger and Me in a kinder light. Definitely on the side of the workers here. Critic Marshall Fine handles the post film Q and A with co-director Kopple.

Afterwards, Kopple will introduce Shut Up and Sing, that she co-directed with Cecilia Peck (Gregory's daughter). It follows the Dixie Chicks after they made their anti-Bush comment and the firestorm that followed. Really it was singer Natalie Maines who made the comment, the other two got dragged into the crap. Where they stopped, or were liberal martyrs created? And are they really down and out anyway? Watch and find out.

THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS- Sat Feb 10 at 4:30- Film Forum- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. An excellent film that was studied in the Pentagon as an example of what to expect when invading Iraq. But as you see the film, you might wonder, at what point did those in charge forget what they learned by seeing this?!?!? For the rest, I'll just cut and paste from the Forum's website:

(1965, GILLO PONTECORVO) Algiers, 1957. French paratroopers inch their way through the Casbah to zero in on the hideout of the last rebel still free in the city. Flashback three years earlier, as the Algerian National Liberation Front decides on urban warfare. Thus begin the provocations, assassinations, hair-breadth escapes, and reprisals; and massive, surging crowd scenes unfolding with gripping realism: many of the sequences were shot and edited to the driving prerecorded score by Pontecorvo and Morricone. Winner, Grand Prize, Venice Film Festival.

THE DEER HUNTER- Sat Feb 10 at 8 for 5 dollars- The Makor, Steinhardt Building, 35 W 67th St- Part of the Academy Awards®—You Be the Judge series. They did a poll with people about what they thought was the best performances that deserved to win an Oscar, but didn't. Robert De Niro's perf in The Deer Hunter was chosed. Now I don't agree that De Niro should have won over Jon Voight for Coming Home that year. But if that's what it takes to get this film on this list, fine by me. The first Vietnam War film that was accepted by the public, despite massive controversy. 9 nominations, including Meryl Streep for Supporting Actress. 5 Oscars, including Picture, Director Michael Cimino and Christopher Walken for Supporting Actor.

Also, only 5 dollars a ticket.

I left out one film from the list: DAYS OF HEAVEN on Wed. Feb 14 at the Film Forum. Terrence Malick's film is less of a movie, and more of a well crafted work of art. But I already caught this last April. If you're really excited to catch it, let me know.

Anything that's on the list, with an emphasis for what's coming up this weekend, is what I'm interested in. And you can't top 5 dollar screenings in Manhatten or if you join me at Film Forum at a reduced price. Let me know. Later.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar noms: the damage left behind

Now we see how well I did in my picks. Let's start with Picture. First, the actual nominees:


Then my first picks in this category:
Babel, Departed, Dreamgirls, Iwo Jima, Queen

Then my revised picks:
Babel, Departed, Dreamgirls, Sunshine, Queen

Then Hollywood Say's picks: Babel, Departed, Dreamgirls, Iwo Jima, Queen

Hey, what the hell happened to Dreamgirls? I managed in both my picks to be both right and wrong at the same time. Doesn't matter, I can only claim 4 out of 5, and only the revised choice at that. I wonder how many Oscar voters who picked Chicago have since died? Or is it that the newer members added over the years don't like musicals? Or perhaps one other dirty secret; that maybe Dreamgirls isn't a better musical then Chicago, despite fitting the traditional format better, plus having better singers?

Now, Best Actor. First, the nominees:

Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND, Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON, Peter O'Toole - VENUS, Will Smith - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, Forest Whitaker - THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

Then my picks: DiCaprio for Departed, O'Toole, Smith, Watanabe, Whitaker.

Then Hollywood Say's picks: DiCaprio (Departed), Whitaker, Smith, O'Toole, Gosling

Kudos for Hollywood Say for having faith that some members would actually pick up the Half Nelson DVD and watch it. And gee, no wonder Leo wasn't nominated for Best Actor for The Departed, Warner Bros only submitted him for Blood Diamond here. Does this mean I have to watch Blood Diamond now? DAMNIT!!!! I already saw Dances With Wolves, Cry Freedom and The Last Samurai, what makes this different?!?!? Oh, the extreme lack of chemistry between Leo and Jennifer Connelly, as seen in the trailer. I FEEL MUCH BETTER NOW!!!!

Best Actress, we both got right. So easy. I guess the same people who touched the Half Nelson DVD, wouldn't touch the Sherrybaby DVD with a 10 meter cattle prod. Sorry, Maggie G.

Now on to Best Director. First, the nominees:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - BABEL, Martin Scorsese - THE DEPARTED, Clint Eastwood - LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, Stephen Frears - THE QUEEN, Paul Greengrass - UNITED 93

Then my picks: Condon, Eastwood for Iwo Jima, Frears, Inarritu, Scorsese.

Then Hollywood Say's picks: Scorsese, Condon, Eastwood, Inarritu, Greengrass (I'm going with my gut here, not to mention the one who deserves it the most. Academy also has a history of nominating directors from films that they themselves won't nominate, as a way of throwing a bone. I'm guessing that will be the case here.)

Nice call with Greengrass, but I told you Frears was going to ride the wave of Old People comfort food with The Queen. That being said, where's Bill Condon? Is Dreamgirls really considered that weak?

Next, Best Sup. Actor. First the nominees:

Alan Arkin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN, Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND, Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS, Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED

Next, my picks and Hollywood Say's, which were one and the same: Arkin, Haley, Murphy, Nicholson and Sheen

While I guess some SAG members felt the same way I did about Jack; that when he started to rat noises, was when his Boston gangster Mephistopheles perf started to go down in quality a little. SAG chose not to nominate him, but I thought the Academy would think otherwise. Oops.

Anyway, did I mention I still don't want to see Blood Diamond? You couldn't force this down my throat during Christmas, and you think now you will, eh Time Warner. You can't make me! Yeah, take that, you multi-billion dollar conglomerate you! I'm not in your pocket! Just because I get my cable from you. Including HBO and Skinemax, I mean Cinemax. And I get my internet too . . . And I liked The Departed a lot, as well as Flags of our Fathers. Also I liked Little Children, which is from a division of Time Warner. Also, For Your Consideration, which is from Warner Bros.' art house division. . . . Oh boy . . . Oh, I liked Superman Returns and V For Vendetta , and I liked the comics they originated from which, uh, which came from DC Comics, which are also owned by . . . Oh forget it. I'm just a tool for Time Warner. Just change my name to THX-1138 and get me to work. No wait, that was from Warner Bros. too. DAMMITT!!!

Now for Best Supporting Actress: First the nominees:

Adriana Barraza - BABEL, Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL, Abigail Breslin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS, Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL

Next, my picks: Barraza, Blanchett, Breslin, Hudson, Kikuchi.

Next, Hollywood Say's picks: Hudson, Blanchett, Kikuchi, Breslin, O'Hara

What do you know? I didn't screw this one up. I kept myself from talking myself out of not picking Barraza and Breslin. Hollywood Say, I understand the sentiment in terms of Catherine O'Hara (For Your Consideration); she or Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada) would have been preferable in the 5th slot. Like I said before, the toughest to cut down to 5.

Next, Original Screenplay. First, the nominees:


Next, my picks: Babel, Sunshine, The Queen, Stranger Than Fiction, United 93.

Next, Hollywood Say's picks: Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen, Iwo Jima, Pan's Labyrinth.

Yup, I screwed the pooch on this one. Stranger Than Fiction; I thought being Charlie Kaufman lite would be a helpful thing. As for United 93, I thought the tossing of a nomination bone to Paul Greengrass would happen here, not for Director, as Hollywood Say predicted.

Next, Screenplay Adaptation. First, the nominees:


First, my picks: Children of Men, Departed, Dreamgirls, Flags of Our Fathers, Little Children.

Next, Hollywood Say's picks: Children of Men, Departed, Dreamgirls, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal

Screwed up again, but I partially don't mind if Patrick Marber gets a nod. Makes up ignoring his script for Closer.

That being said, of course I messed up with Flags of our Fathers, Warners supposedly never submitted it for the major nominations! To make Clint feel better after Flag's financial failure, they withdrew Flags from consideration for the major categories, and put all thier publicity eggs into Iwo Jima.

Also, Borat? BORAT?!?!?! A series of story ideas with little or no dialogue, loosely linked together, and that passes as a script? Thanks, Writers Guild. The worst nomination for a script since Beverly Hills Cop in 1985 (the funniest lines were improvised or ad libbed by Eddie Murphy). I liked Borat, but I'm not buying it as a script. Sorry.

I lost this again, but that's ok. The real losing, I mean real competition comes Sunday Feb 25.

Other notes:

A surprising number of noms for Pan's Labyrinth. Now I'm really interested in catching it.

The only actor to be nominated from The Departed is Marky Mark. Really?

Nice to see Jesus Camp wasn't ignored for a Best Documentary nomination. Now it's out on home video, so rush to rent it. It's facing heavy competiton in this category, so please don't let this get lost in the shuffle.

The only nomination Volver could manage was for Penelope Cruz? Did Pedro A. do something to tick off the Academy, aside from Bad Education (my favorite film of 2004)? And does this mean we can no longer make fun of Cruz's voice when she speaks English?

3 song nominations for Dreamgirls, but no love for Prince's song for Happy Feet?

If Al Gore wins for Best Documentary, and Happy Feet wins Best Animated Film, you'll hear more louder screams from conservative households since Clooney gave his acceptance speech for Syriana last year. All that would probably be nothing if Iraq In Fragments wins. After they hear the director's speech, the same number will probably shoot the TV, like Elvis did once.

Later all.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oscar nom picks.

Every year for the past couple of years, thanks to the internet, I've done a little thing with several friends, where we make our Oscar picks. For the purposes of this blog, I'll post them here. 1 or 2 minor edits, one major change on my end, and 2 name deletions made by me, otherwise it's the same. Here it is in cut and pasted form. And if you have any bright ideas, comments, corrections, wish to tear me a new one based on the picks made, don't be afraid to let me know. Remember, they need to be in by 8:30AM EST, Tuesday Jan. 23 2007. No prizes, sorry. Also, do note that none of us have any special knowledge, insight or secret files. We're just talking. Here we go. First, me:

Subject: Oscar predictions
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 05:09:07 -0500

Mike here with our annual let's try to predict the nominations. As usual I use the Hollywood Stock Exchange website as a guide, and break them down into probables, possibles, maybes, and longshots, followed by my pick. I believe 3 years ago I outdid J.C., 2 yrs ago we tied (with some different picks), and last yr, JC did better then me. {NAME DELETED}, I don't want to talk about, poor man. Anyway, here we go:

Best Picture:
Probables: Little Miss Sunshine, The Departed, Babel, Dreamgirls, The Queen

Possible: Letters From Iwo Jima

Maybe: Little Children

Longshots: Volver, United 93, The Pursuit of Happyness, Flags of Our Fathers, The Good Shepard, World Trade Center, Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men, Note on a Scandal, Blood Diamond, The Devil Wears Prada, Half Nelson, Thank You for Smoking, Borat, Bobby

My picks: Babel, Departed, Dreamgirls, Iwo Jima, Queen

The Queen is so lucky that it's Movie Comfort Food for old people. And as much as i liked sunshine, i would be surprised if Clint was ignored by Oscar. As long as it isn't Booby, I mean Bobby. I mean, how the hell did those nutjobs in SAG vote Booby as Best Ensemble? Didn't they notice Sharon Stone and Ashton Kutcher were in the cast? Didn't they see the TRAILER?!?!?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Editor's note: I originally had Sunshine 4th in the probables category, and I left it unpicked. Since then, Sunshine won the Producers Guild award. As far as I'm concerned, not only should it be listed as the number one probable, it now has a good chance to win if nominated. So I guess we'll have to throw out Clint in this category. I so much prefer to see Queen not make it in this category, but it doesn't look likely. So here are my revised picks:

My picks: Babel, Departed, Dreamgirls, Sunshine, Queen

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Best Actor:
Probables: Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland, Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed, Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness

Possibles: Peter O'Toole - Venus, Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson, Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat

Maybes: Ken Watanabe - Letters from Iwo Jima, Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond

Longshots: Aaron Eckhart - Thank You for Smoking, Matt Damon - The Good Shepherd, Derek Luke - Catch a Fire, George Clooney - The Good German, Jamie Foxx- Dreamgirls, Clive Owen- Children of Men, Greg Kinnear- Little Miss Sunshine, Edward Norton- The Painted Veil, Daniel Craig- Casino Royale, Patrick Wilson- Little Children, Nicholas Cage- World Trade Center

My picks: DiCaprio for Departed, O'Toole, Smith, Watanabe, Whitaker.

I'm just finding it doubtful that enough Academy members picked up the Half Nelson DVD and watched Gosling.

Note: Warner Bros. tried to have DiCaprio nominated for Best Actor for Blood Diamond and Supporting Actor for Departed, because the Academy doesn't allow one actor to be nominated twice in the same category. Don't think WB will succeed with that, but if it the category looks a little funny when announced, you'll know why.

Best Actress:
Probables: Helen Mirren - The Queen, Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada, Kate Winslet - Little Children, Penelope Cruz - Volver

Possible: Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal

Maybes: Maggie Gyllenhaal - Sherrybaby, Naomi Watts - The Painted Veil

Longshots: Juliette Binoche - Breaking and Entering, Beyoncè Knowles - Dreamgirls, Sienna Miller - Factory Girl, Renee Zellweger - Miss Potter, Cate Blanchett - The Good German, Annette Bening - Running with Scissors, Anne Hathaway- The Devil Wears Prada, Ellen Page- Hard Candy

My picks: Cruz, Dench, Mirren, Streep, Winslet.

I still believe Streep's perf is only a supporting role, not a lead. But oh well . . .

Best Director:
Probables: Martin Scorsese - The Departed, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Babel, Bill Condon - Dreamgirls, Clint Eastwood - Letters from Iwo Jima

Possible: Stephen Frears - The Queen

Maybes: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris - Little Miss Sunshine, Paul Greengrass - United 93, Alfonso Cuarón - Children of Men, Todd Field - Little Children, Pedro Almodovar - Volver, Gabriele Muccino - The Pursuit of Happyness

Longshots: Clint Eastwood - Flags of Our Fathers, Robert De Niro - The Good Shepherd, Oliver Stone - World Trade Center, Robert Altman- A Prairie Home Companion, Gulliermo del Toro- Pan's Labyrinth

My picks: Condon, Eastwood for Iwo Jima, Frears, Inarritu, Scorsese.

Like I said, it's a good thing The Queen is old people comfort food, otherwise Greengrass would be nominated over him. And yes, Eastwood over the Sunshine directors. Yes, they got the DGA nomination over Clint, but at least a third of the Guild membership is comprised of video directors, where Dayton and Faris started as. But Clint will not be ignored by the Academy this year, especially in this category. Others years might have seen Altman get a posthumous nom, but not this year.

Best Supporting Actor:
Probables: Eddie Murphy- Dreamgirls, Jack Nicholson - The Departed

Possibles: Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children, Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond, Mark Wahlberg - The Departed, Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine

Maybes: Brad Pitt - Babel, Michael Sheen - The Queen, James McAvoy - The Last King of Scotland, Steve Carell - Little Miss Sunshine

Longshots: Ben Affleck - Hollywoodland, Adam Beach - Flags of Our Fathers, Michael Pena - World Trade Center, Bill Nighy- Notes on a Scandal, Stanley Tucci- The Devil Wears Prada

My picks: Arkin, Haley, Murphy, Nicholson and Sheen.

The toughest of the acting categories, in terms of many choices to fill the 5th slot. Sheen is my dark horse; here's hoping the idea of The Queen being old people comfort food actually works in this case over Blood Diamond. For all the deserved attention toward Mirren, we wouldn't empathize with Queen Elizabeth nearly as much, if Sheen's portrayal doesn't allow us to. It almost gives us permission to feel at least a little sorry. Sorry Beach and Carell (in that order), no room.

Best Supporting Actress:
Probable: Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls

Possibles: Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal, Rinko Kikuchi - Babel, Adriana Barraza - Babel, Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine

Maybes: Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada, Phyllis Somerville - Little Children, Vera Farmiga - The Departed

Longshots: Catherine O'Hara - For Your Consideration, Carmen Maura - Volver, Shareeka Epps - Half Nelson, Emma Thompson - Stranger Than Fiction, Jill Clayburgh - Running with Scissors, Maggie Gyllenhaal - World Trade Center, Luminita Gheorghiu- The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Meryl Streep- A Prairie Home Companion, Vanessa Redgrave- Venus, Katie Holmes- Thank You For Smoking

Just kidding about Holmes!! Just making sure you're still awake! God, Katie has become a joke at this point . . . .

My picks: Barraza, Blanchett, Breslin, Hudson, Kikuchi.

After Hudson and Blanchett, just try to cut the list down! That being said, I really tried to think of an alternative that I thought the Academy would pick over Barraza, but no such luck. I have a bias over her storyline in Babel; my least favorite. But not enough of a bias to think she won't get the nod. Personally, I would really want to put in Farmiga, and either O'Hara or Blunt, over Barraza and Breslin, but that's not happening.

Best Original Screenplay:
Probables: Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, The Queen

Possibles: Pan's Labyrinth, Stranger Than Fiction

Maybes: The Good Shepherd, Half Nelson, The Lives of Other, The Pursuit of Happyness, Letters from Iwo Jima, United 93

Longshots: Volver, Bobby, World Trade Center, Sherrybaby

My picks: Babel, Sunshine, The Queen, Stranger Than Fiction, United 93.

United here is another dark horse, otherwise I'd put Iwo Jima here. Greengrass not getting anything would be a bit of a surprise.

Best Screenplay Adaptation:
Probables: The Departed, Dreamgirls

Possibles: Children of Men, The Devil Wears Prada, Thank You for Smoking, The Last King of Scotland, Little Children

Maybes: The History Boys, Notes on a Scandal, Flags of Our Fathers, The Illusionist, The Painted Veil

Longshots: A Prairie Home Companion, The Good German, V For Vendetta, Running With Scissors

My picks: Children of Men, Departed, Dreamgirls, Flags, Little Children.

Sorry I don't see Flags as having only a small chance, I'm feeling the adaptation for Smoking is probably not a major improvement, Prada is too lightweight, and despite some people knowing Patrick Marber, that the positive credit for Scandal is going to remain with the female leads.

Ok. Those are mine, let's see if you can do any better?

Now the first response I got was not someone picking, but someone who didn't like to be refered to as poor man by me in regards to his picks. His thoughts:

"Poor man" !?! A pox upon you, {Word deleted}. I pick those I think deserving, not what the low-brow, mouth breathing, knuckle draggers will likely pick.

Sorry man, didn't mean to refer to you as poor. Would have said sorry earlier but getting band-aids for my knuckles, then getting them over the keyboard takes a lot of my time.

However, someone else did respond, and with nominations. One of the guys listed on the left hand side, known as Hollywood Say, making his first contribution here. Here are his thoughts:

Sent : Saturday, January 20, 2007 12:10 PM

Picture: Babel, Departed, Dreamgirls, Iwo Jima, Queen

Actor: DiCaprio (Departed), Whitaker, Smith, O'Toole, Gosling

Actress: Cruz, Dench, Mirren, Streep, Winslet

Supporting Actor: Murphy, Nicholson, Haley, Arkin, Sheen (ditto on Sheen)

Supporting Actress: Hudson, Blanchett, Kikuchi, Breslin, O'Hara

Director: Scorsese, Condon, Eastwood, Inarritu, Greengrass (I'm going with my gut here, not to mention the one who deserves it the most. Academy also has a history of nominating directors from films that they themselves won't nominate, as a way of throwing a bone. I'm guessing that will be the case here.)

Original Screenplay: Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen, Iwo Jima, Pan's Labyrinth

Adapted Screenplay: Children of Men, Departed, Dreamgirls, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal

It's okay, you can post my picks on your blog without annonimity. I don't really care. At the end of the days, just post the final Oscar results, in which the good money should bet on me. Lol!

Yeah, I've made bets with Hollywood Say over who actually wins; with either a dinner or DVD as a prize. And if my memory is correct, I haven't beaten him once. I've been close once or twice, but never victorious.

Not once.





time . . . . . .

No bitterness here, of course. If there was, why would I keep doing this? It's not like I'm banging my head against the wall. That's a different sort of pleasure all together. Later all.

P.S. : Hollywood Say, nice contribution. Please don't hesitate to contribute again in the future around here. Strenik, the door is open to you as well.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jan revivals: second half

Mike here with a list of revivals to catch for the end of Jan. Among the titles, 2 of them are NOT on DVD. And who knows when they's see the light of video day. Here we go:

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTIEN- Wed Jan 17 at 8- MOMA- 11 W. 53 St., between 5th and 6th ave.-Once again, I bring up this horror comedic (though not too campy) classic, and I bring it up again. I've talked about it on previous lists, so I won't repeat myself again. Would like to catch it.

ERASERHEAD and 8 MILE- Fri Jan 19 at 6(Eraserhead) and 8 (8 Mile)- MOMA- Here's a unique double-feature; I would do both, or only just the former, but not only the later. First, Eraserhead, in a 35mm print that was restored by MOMA itself, with the director's help.

Highly experimental David Lynch film that took 5 years to make, shot on weekends and basically by piecemeal, with funding only coming in through family and friends. Became such a labor of love, that lead actor Jack Nance was content with only 25 dollars a weekend and a room and a chair for comfort during shooting. Such a labor of love that the set designer's girlfriend, Sissy Spacek, worked the slate while the boyfriend acted (they later married). Became an almost instant midnight movie staple in the late 70's and early 80's. Was interesting enough for Mel Brooks to hire Lynch to direct The Elephant Man.

An example of a Lynch film where narrative barely exists, but the visuals hold your interest. Mullholand Drive wished it was this good. And don't you waste my time, bringing this up in the same breath as Lynch's current unwatchable, Inland Empire. Some shots will fascinate, others will disgust, just go with it.

Double feaured with Eminem's 8 Mile, a slightly autobiographical take of his struggles with hip hop, his girlfriends and his mother in Detroit. Basically, Rocky for rappers was the early description of Curtis Hanson's (L.A. confidential) film. Came almost out of nowhere to break the 100 mil mark, lift Eminem from the A list among musicians to A list period, and win him an Oscar for Best Song (he refused to attend after the Oscar producers wanted to edit his lyrics).

3 WOMEN- Fri Jan 19 at 7 and 9:15- IFC Film Center- W. 3rd St. and 6th Ave- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. Definitely a 70s film, but one heavily influenced by Bergman's Persona. Lots of obsession and some switching of personalities. Hard to describe a film that had no screenplay, but was completely influenced by some dreams Altman had. Gone are the days when a major director and the head of a major studio (in this case, Alan Ladd Jr. of Fox) could have an exchange possibly resembling something like this:

Altman: Hi, Alan. I just had some dreams, and I'd like you to give me some money to make a movie about them. I promise I won't write a screenplay.
Ladd: Oh. Ok.
Altman: I don't need much.
Ladd: How about 1.5 Million? (the actual estimated budget)
Altman: Great. I've got a plane to catch. Will call you later.
Ladd: Have a good flight. (The situation actually happened, minus this dialogue, according to the book "Easy Riders" by Peter Biskind).

Starring Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall. Never seen all of this and I'm very curious.

McCABE AND MRS. MILLER- Sat Jan 20 at 7:40- IFC Film Center- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. A Western that must have heavily influenced at least the look of HBO's Deadwood, as well as Unforgiven. Warren Beatty (cast for box office purposes, over Altman's original choice of Elliot Gould) plays a gambler/hustler type who sets up a whorehouse/saloon with the help of Julie Christie (Oscar nominated). When mining companies try to buy out their successful business, things get bloody. But since we're in 70s Altman territory, expect some revisionist changes to the usual formula.

This film got lost in the shuffle back in 71; released in the summer around hits like Klute and Shaft, and with influential films like French Connection, A Clockwork Orange and Last Picture Show coming later on, forget remembering this back then. Over the years, it's developed a cult following, among Western fans and Altman fans. Vilmos Zigmond (Close Encounters, Heaven's Gate, The Deer Hunter)'s Cinematography and Leonard Cohen's songs certainly helped. Also filled with a lot of actors from other Altman films, including Keith Carradine, Rene Auberjonois, and Shelley Duvall. Would really like to try to catch this.

A WEDDING and HealtH- Mon Jan 22 at 7:25 (A Wedding, introduced by A.O. Scott) and 9:50 (HEALTH)- IFC Film Center- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. A double feature, consisting of one of Altman's underrated 70s film, and one of Altman's film that never received a proper threatrical release, and is not on DVD. First, A Wedding, one of the last Altman studio film to receive a proper release. Basically, it covers the story of a wedding, the 2 families that come together, and the secrets, lies and other contrivances that come forth in this social event that doesn't run smoothly. Over the top at times, but likeable. Strong ensemble acting, including Carol Burnett, Mia Farrow, Lillian Gish, and a number of others who had appeared in previous Altman films.

Movie critic for the New York Times, A.O. Scott, will introduce the 7:25 screening.

Next, HealtH (the way the title is spelled; no typo.). Inspired by (his feelings of anger toward) Watergate, HealtH depicts a convention, where several people battle to win an election for president of a health organization that lobbies Washington. Lauren Bacall plays one candidate, who claims that every orgasm takes 28 days off a woman's life, while she occasionally slips into a coma. Glenda Jackson plays another candidate who can't talk without lapsing into a bored speech. How you can tell if she can be effective when she doesn't know how to present herself (a topic Altman would later cover on HBO's Tanner 88). Paul Dooley (co-writer and frequent actor for Altman) plays an independent candidate who claims to be for the little guy, but you have to wonder . . . James Garner plays bacillus campaign manager, and Carol Burnett plays the Presiden'ts personal observer ("I just want everyone to know the President is very pro-health!"). A young Alfre Woodard plays the hotel manager, and Dick Cavett plays himself.

The film was supposed to send up the condition of the American political process in the 70s. Bacall playing a variation of an empty platitude Dwight Eisenhower, and Jackson play a variation of the useless Adlai Stevenson. It was supposed to be released during the 1980 presidential campaign, but after one disaterous screening, 20th Century Fox essentially buried the film and called it "unrealeasable". One week in L.A. in Sept 1980, one week at the old Film Forum in 1982, and then mostly buried. A 1983 summer screening on CBS, and the rare screening on Fox Movie Channel, plus several showings at Film Forum and similar type of revival houses. Not the best Altman, but pretty decent.

If you're an Altman fan who's just discovering his films, this is a good night to go.

BECKET- Fri Jan 26- Mon Jan 29 (tentative for Mon on my end) at 8:20, plus Sat Jan 27 and Sun Jan 28 at 5:20- Film Forum- 209 west houston bet. 6th and Varick- The following is a forgotten film from 1964. NOT on DVD in North America, and only available on long out of print VHS and laserdisc (the later has sold as high as 80 dollars on Ebay). It's almost never shown on TV and it's being screened for the first time in NYC in decades, in a new 35mm print. If you consider say, Glengarry Glen Ross, to be Acting 101, then consider Becket as Acting 101: British Male Edition.

Not to dismiss the rest of this finely crafted film, adapted from Jean AnouilhÂ’s play. This could be considered among the best examples of opening up a play for film, and not just the wonderful use of various sites in Northumberland, England. If you watched this without knowing it was based on a stage play, you'd never know it.

What this film may best be remembered as, is as an acting duel between Peter O'Toole (in his first post-Lawrence of Arabia role) and Richard Burton (1 year after Cleopatra). This a historical drama, with O'Toole and Burton playing childhood friends Henry and Thomas Becket, repectively. You see them as friends; and we see them later, as O'Toole's character becomes King Henry II of England, and Burton's character becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. We also see the conflict, as Becket chooses to follow God's will as opposed to his King's.

12 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Actor for both Burton and O'Toole, Supporting Actor for John Gielgud, Director and Cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (Cabaret, 2001, Superman, Tess). It won only one Oscar, for Screenplay Adaptation. Which might lead to why this film has gone away to many film buffs minds (or never entered them to begin with.). For a film about ideas, featuring lots of talking, it came out around the time of more popular films both critically andculturallyy: Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day's Night, My Fair Lady, Goldfinger and Mary Poppins. They're remembered and Becket isn't. I'm pretty sure most of you who read this don't know Becket, and I strongly suggest this changes now. It will also play on Thursday Feb 1, butI'll list that (maybe) in Feb.

The thing that might decide when I see this is if my mother wants to go. She is a HUGE Becket fan, and in this one case, I may have to bend to when she can go (if she does have the time). More on that if you say yes.

EASY RIDER- Fri Jan 26 at 10:40- Two Boots Pioneer- E. 3rd St., between Avenues A and B (closer to A)- Once again, I pitch this film. Let's see if there are any takers this time.

NASHVILLE- Sat Jan 27(tentative on my end) and Sun Jan 28 at 6:30- AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave. at 36 St- Once again, I pitch the Robert Altman classic in hopes of catching this. I'm beginning to regret not catching this at AMMI back in March 2003 when I had the chance. Don't prove me wrong. Though when I see BECKET will decide when or if I can catch Nashville.

Lots of good (or unique) choices. In case you didn't notice, HealtH and BECKET were the 2 not on DVD. Throw in at least Bride of Frankenstien, the MOMA double feature this coming Fri night, McCabe and Mrs Miller, and (time permitting) Nashville, you have an idea of what I really want to see. But then again, I wouldn't mind catching all the films on the list, otherwise I wouldn't bother typing them out. Let me know. Later.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Possible list of Oscars films to catch up on

Mike here. Happy New Year all. I've seen films with some of you over the past 2 weeks. A lot of it is mainly to play catch up with films that might be possible Oscar nominees. Some of you told me what you're planning on catching, while being surprised at a few titles that might require attention. Others just plain asked.

So I'll give an unofficial list of probable and possible nominees for some of the major awards. It'll help form a top 10 list of the year for yourself. It's not a complete list; how could it be with no nominations out yet? I consider major nominations to be the following for our Top 10 purposes: Picture, Director, the 4 Acting categories, the 2 Screenplay categories, Foreign Language, Documentary, and Animated Film. For what I think you might believe to be questionable choices, I wrote something in parenthesis explaining.

First I put up those currently in theaters as of this writing. Listed in the order of how I found them in the NY Post:

Notes on a Scandal
The Queen
Children of Men
Little Children
The History Boys(for Screenplay Adaptation, maybe)
Pan's Labyrinth
Letters From Iwo Jima
Happy Feet
The Departed
The Last King of Scotland(1 or 2 theaters right now, but more in mid-Jan.)
Curse of the Golden Flower(for Foreign Language, maybe)
Flags of our Fathers
The Pursuit of Happyness(for Will Smith for Actor, maybe)
Stranger Then Fiction(Screenplay only, probably)
Blood Diamond(for Djimon Hounsou for Supporting Actor, maybe)
For Your Consideration(for Catherine O'Hara for Supporting Actress, maybe)

I left out some released films not in New York theaters or on DVD as of this writing: The Lives of Others, Days of Glory, Running With Scissors, Half Nelson, Iraq in Fragments, Shut Up and Sing, Sherrybaby, Flushed Away, Deliver Us From Evil and Hollywoodland.

I also left out some films not in New York yet, but qualified in L.A.: Breaking and Entering, Factory Girl, Arthur and the Invisibles, The Flying Scotsman and Miss Potter(please not this one; this and Blood and Chocolate are the least appealing trailers out there now.).

Any films I left out that are currently in theaters, either won't be nominated, or (in my opinion only) won't receive one in the above mentioned categories.

The next list are those now available on DVD:
United 93
Little Miss Sunshine(both films are currently playing in one theater each, but probably not for long. Easier and definetly cheaper to catch on DVD at this point.)
The Devil Wears Prada
Monster House
A Scanner Darkly
An Inconvenient Truth
Thank You For Smoking
Jesus Camp(out on video in late Jan)
A Prairie Home Companion(either for Screenplay or a posthumous nom for Altman, both maybes)

One more film to put on this list:

Army of Shadows

This one won't be Oscar nominated, because it was made in 1969. But it finally received a U.S. release last May, and has been in the top 5 of many a critic's list this winter. If you see it, it will be hard to keep it off yours. Currently in Film Forum thru Jan 11, Symphony Space in late Jan, and AMMI in Astoria on Feb 23 and 24.

Trust me, I realize it's borderline impossible to catch all these films by feb 25. I know I won't be able to, but I will go for as many as possible ( I've caught almost half of them going back to May.). There are plenty of films here to help form a top 10 for yourself. I left out some, but that's for another time. Myself, i won't cough up a list until around Feb 25. But here's your handy reference guide of stuff to catch. Print it, write a few titles down. Whatever, here you go. Later.