Saturday, February 05, 2011

Oscar catch up and other flicks

Hey all. Mike here with films to catch up with. Instead of revivals, here's a handy list of Oscar nominees and films that either would fit well on a best of 2010 list or helped make 2010 a better than average year in film. The films are broken up in 5 categories: major Oscar nominees in theaters, major nominees on DVD/pay per view/On Demand, minor Oscar nominees in theaters, minor nominees on DVD/pay per view/On Demand, and a few others.

Major nominees to catch up with at a theater: BLACK SWAN, TRUE GRIT, THE KING'S SPEECH,

127 HOURS (Director Danny Boyle pulls out the cinematic bag of tricks, to make an interesting 90 or so minute film about a guy trapped for 127 hours and had to cut off his arm to survive. Seriously, a guy trapped by a rock for over 75 minutes, not an easy task to pull off in an interesting way, and Boyle does it. Without a strong lead from James Franco, who cares. We care. And don't worry too much about being queasy about the arm scene. In the end, you do realize Franco himself has two good working arms, right? He's not really cutting off his own arm, you do GET THAT?!?!?),


BIUTIFUL, RABBIT HOLE (Not looking forward to tackling these spinach films. "Come watch these. They're good for you. They're good for your soul!)

Major nominees to catch up with on DVD or pay per view: INCEPTION, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, TOY STORY 3, GAS LAND,

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (above average family dramedy with good acting. There are much better films this year however, so it's not ending up on my top 10. Was just fine with the script and acting nominations it received, wasn't annoyed by it's Best Picture nomination. Though I will say, if Annette Bening wins Best Actress over Natalie Portman for Black Swan, I'm ok with it because I've always liked Bening, but I also recognize it as career achievement, NOT the best of 2010.),

WINTER'S BONE (good modern noir, where even someplace far from a major city, the idea of never snitch is alive and well. Great to see Jennifer Lawrence get acknowledged, and happy to see John Hawkes not get lost in the shuffle for Supporting Actor. Again, better films this year, so Oscar and I disagree yet again, go figure . . . . ),

THE TOWN (Feels like I've been down the road before with The Departed, Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone, and it suffers a little by comparison. Not buying the attempted romance with Rebecca Hall either. When we get to the third heist, I also felt a little action fatigue instead of complete tension. But some good action scenes otherwise, and having the law, in the form of Jon Hamm, be a jerk, is a nice change of pace. Loved Jeremy Renner running hog wild in the film, as a variation of de Niro's character from Mean Streets, only more violent with mad skills with automatic weaponry).



UNSTOPPABLE (comes out on DVD February 15.),

TRON: LEGACY (Best way to see this was on a real 3D IMAX screen, like at the Lincoln Square theater in Manhattan, not the smaller fake-ish ones that have been opening up for awhile. Still it helps if you were a big fan of the 1982 original, though it would also give you this question: how do you do a sequel to Tron and barely have the Tron character there at all? Good music and even better visuals. Garret Hedlund looks good and moves well, but doesn't seem to have a lot of range. Luckily we had Jeff Bridges in two major roles, and Olivia Wilde, James Frain and Michael Sheen provide good cover support. And no, I was not freaked out or annoyed by the CGI done to Bridges' face in his second role. So what in this case if it looks a little fake? Bridges wasn't playing a human, why can't he look humanoid and yet inhuman. Too much thinking in a Tron film, people.),

COUNTRY STRONG (Gwyneth annoys me, and I just wrote above about Hedlund's questionable range. So I'm suppose to watch this film where they are the leads? Why? Are you providing me with the eyelid clamps like in A Clockwork Orange, because that's the only way short of paying me, that I will watch this in a theater.).

Minor nominees to catch up with on DVD or pay per view: ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Mia Wasikowska's performance allowed me to hang in there through Tim Burton's weakest film that didn't feature apes. The interesting visuals could only cover the dull script for so long. I felt Crispin Glover was a more effective villain than Helena Bonham Carter's Red Queen, and by the time we got Anne Hathaway's ultra-bland White Queen, I no longer cared. I'm grateful I didn't waste money on 3-D since it wasn't shot that way. Nice Cheshire Cat though.),

I AM LOVE- (Similar to the Louis Malle film Damage, with a bit of Dynasty and more than a little Italian flavor to it. Having a liking for soap opera helps. Wonderful Tilda Swinton performance, as a Russian woman who's had a good life in her Italian family, but not necessarily a happy one. Until her passions are stoked by her son's friend. As strictly an English speaker, I had no problem with her performance, as opposed to online native Italian speakers who had major issues with the phonetics of her speech. Since I'm not about to learn Italian for the sake of bloggers, I'll just give it a thumbs up. Yes, I realize this is a case of glass houses here, but I can live with that.


IRON MAN 2 (Good to see Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell have fun as villains. But six or seven different story lines slapped together is not a joy to watch. Passable time killer, but that's if you enjoy the characters from the comics and/or Downey Jr. Otherwise a major disappointment compared to the first film. Marvel might have made a mint, but they dropped the ball with this film.).

And now, some others that should be caught up with:

THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES- (Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar last year.),

A PROPHET- (Foreign Language Film nominee),

THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF PHIL SPECTOR (no idea when this will hit DVD),


THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Very good thriller, the pieces hold together quite well. Good performance from Michael Nyqvist, but the standout is both the creation of Lisbeth Salander, and Noomi Rapace's performance. I was truly disappointed, though not surprised, that Rapace's performance wasn't Oscar nominated. Overall, Fincher has a good enough story that would be hard to screw up, but how will the remake hold up when there's even less suspense the second time on screen will be interesting. Affection for the lead characters/actors is almost all that carried me through the two sequels. For the die hards who are willing to experience disappointment, just to see characters they've bonded with.),

WAITING FOR SUPERMAN (Deserves to be seen just for the discussion it will provoke after. And anything that prefers to side with parents and students, as opposed to say, Randi Weingarten can't be all bad. Comes out on DVD on February 15.),

THE EXPENDABLES (Check your brain at the door and have fun with the personalities, and all the things that go boom. Though for action films, I prefer the next picture.),

RED (The casting of Bruce Willis aside, it violates Schwarzenegger's edict that all action films where the man is the lead, must have physical imposing leads. By that standard, Jaws shouldn't exist, so fuck him. Fun film, though I should say John Malkovich is truly believable as a man who ingested LSD everyday for 9 years. Scary fun believable.),

JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK (A helluva survivor in show business. This documentary subject doesn't ask for or expect pity or perhaps even empathy; but definitely wants a chance to make you laugh. You get to know your subject, and you stay interested. And you laugh too. Good job.),

MOTHER (2009 South Korean film, released earlier in the year. Not to be confused with the Albert Brooks film from the 90s I believe.),

BLUE BEARD (French version. Interesting re-telling from director Catherine Breillat, with good performances from then 15 year old Lola Creton and from {5? 6} year old Marilou Lopes-Benites as the winsome narrator. An little gem to find in Netflix, but NOT for kids.),

SHUTTER ISLAND (Yes, good art direction and score here. BUT, you either feel the journey of the film is worth taking, or you feel the ending jerks you around and you'll feel like your time has been wasted. No in-between. I understand if you lean toward the later, but I felt the trip was worth. Seriously, you need to be spoon fed every answer? Walk away from this film then.),

AJAMI- (2010 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language film, and a good one. You could whittle it down as Crash meets Rashomon, but that isn't an insult. 5 different stories that show how life is in the mixed community of Christians, Jews and Muslims in Tel Aviv. Not a happy drama, but a good one.)

Enough for now. The picture of the Oscar by the way was one of the Oscars awarded to Casablanca for Best Picture, that was part of a tour sponsored by TCM of Hollywood memorabilia. Caught it at Grand Central Station back in October. Later all.

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