Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If I ruled the world, the Oscars would be awesome.

Since the reality of this year's Oscar prospective winners is too much for me to bear, I've created my own list of nominees. The Academy can suck it. Once you snub Christopher Nolan for the third time, I'm out. If Ben Affleck's glitter-laden fecal matter of a movie gets a single nomination, I'm out (sorry Jeremy, it's true). If a pregnant Padme takes priority over an incredible new starlet who held her own against blood-thirsty Ozark goons, I'm out. If I had it my way, here's how the Oscars would go down, GO!:

Best Original Screenplay
"Inception" - Just because you were too daft to figure it out, doesn't mean it wasn't immaculate.

Best Adapted Screenplay
"Never Let Me Go" - Very much worthy, and a beautiful novel (Kazuo Ishiguro) to boot.

Best Art Direction
"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" - Did you see this movie? OMFGamazing!

Best Costume Design
"Agora" - How did this not make the list?

Best Cinematography
"Valhalla Rising” - Fog and stone and lush Viking landscapes.

Best Original Score
Danny Elfman, "Alice in Wonderland" - The Elfman cometh.

Best Visual Effects
"Tron: Legacy" - 'Iron Man 2' for real?! Was the creation of Clu not enough to earn a nomination? Geez...

Best Animated Feature Film
"Despicable Me” - Much funnier and more creative than 'Toy Story 3.'

Best Documentary Feature
"Exit Through The Gift Shop" - It's on my watch list, but I've been a fan of Banksy since high school, so there.

Best Foreign Language Film
"Mother" - Cerebral and disturbing. Spotlight on Korean filmmakers, please!

Best Supporting Actor
John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone" - Loved him on 'Deadwood', loved him as Teardrop. He deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress
Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit" - You go, girl.

Best Actor
It's a tie for me: Jeff Bridges or James Franco - No thank you, Jesse Eisenberg.

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone" - A rugged and violent performance is more deserving than that of a schizophrenic ballerina.

Best Director
Christopher Nolan, "Inception" - I'm shocked that he was snubbed.

Best Picture
"Inception" - It was the only movie I saw this year that was flawless. The way I felt coming out of the dark and into the light of day is a feeling I die for. A true work of art.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Green Hornet" is a lackluster superhero romp with no soul: D+

I have so many things to bitch about when it comes to Gondry's remake of "The Green Hornet," I really don't know where to start.

Let me start off by addressing the issue of casting: Whose brilliant idea was it to ruin the promising career of Christoph Waltz? I mean seriously! He was so amazing in "Inglourious Basterds," I mean, he won an Oscar for that shit! Why, oh why, is he stooping down to Rogen's level in this disaster of a role? 'Chudnofsky?!' Really, guys? And the lovely Tom Wilkinson! Why the hell did he agree to this stupid movie? And don't get me started on the Asian popstar invasion - first, Rain appeared in "Ninja Assassin," and now Jay Chou is attempting to fill the boots of Bruce *effing* Lee?! It can't be that hard to find decent Asian actors in America who can perform martial arts stunts...is it? I'm so over Cameron Diaz, by the way. She looked like hell in the movie, and I'm convinced that she's riding the coat-tails of that flashy smile of hers, whose non-existence would render her a waitress at Red Robin.

Seth Rogen should stick to writing, and not for himself. In the Apatow days, Rogen is just a guy in the group with an affinity for toilet humor and bong tokes. He should keep it that way. In movies like "Pineapple Express," "The 40-Year Old Virgin," and "Knocked Up" he's a very loveable character, and seems like a pretty cool guy. Enter "The Green Hornet," and all of a sudden the stoner-next-door I used to love is selling out, dropping some pounds, and working with the likes of Michel Gondry? What has happened to my world? The stoner humor doesn't work for a superhero, bro! If you're the heir to a million-dollar newspaper and your asshole tycoon daddy drops dead, I would expect you to show some emotion. If you're Seth Rogen, the king of stoners, the little Canadian that could, the beacon of light for the young and nerdy, the party animal, you stay away from roles that require depth. It's that simple.

Needless to say, the action was mediocre. Gondry's attempt to make scenes look like comic panels jumping off the screen in 3D was met with boredom. This movie shouldn't have been in 3D. There was no point to it! I don't know if Jay Chou did his stunts or not, but some scenes with Kato were pretty cool - just not enough to save this movie from certain doom. The car was also a highlight. Bleh.

When the credits started to roll and I made my way out of theater, I just kept thinking, 'I can't believe that was it.' What a way to start the new year. I sure hope that 2011 has more in store for me than this bullshit.

Friday, January 14, 2011

[f.g.i.] Presents: My favorite moments of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand"

Over the past week or so, I've been re-watching 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand,' preparing myself for the premiere of the prequel 'Spartacus: Gods of the Arena' (Friday 1/21 10pm PST on Starz). For those of you who don't know, I am a huge fan of violent period pieces. Movies such as '300' and 'Gladiator' really float my boat, and when the series made its debut back in January of 2010, I was pumped. Sadly, Andy Whitfield's non-Hodgkins lymphoma has prevented him from returning to the show. I have high hopes that despite his absence, the prequel will prove to be another great installment.

In honor of Andy Whitfield and the brilliant creators of the show, I've created a list of my favorite moments from 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand.' (IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE SHOW, PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THIS LIST CONTANS **SPOILERS**)

The Pits
After surrendering to Crixus in the arena, Batiatus decides to throw Spartacus into the pits to punish him for embarassing the lutus. In the pits, one fighter must die. Weapons are chosen through a random draw. Here's what happens: Spartacus kicks ass! One after another, Spartacus makes a bloody mess of the sands of the pits. It's f***ing awesome.

Spartacus and Crixus vs. Theokoles
In order to win the favor of the magistrate, Batiatus pairs Spartacus and Crixus together to fight against Theokoles, the Shadow of Death. The only person to face him in the arena and live to tell the tale is Doctore, whose gnarly scars are a result of Thekoles' sword. Crixus refuses to work as a team in the arena, and he pays a high price for it. Theokoles beat the crap out of Crixus, to the point of near-death. As he's lying on the sand, Crixus uses his shield to blind Theokoles as Spartacus goes in for the kill. Theokoles will not die easily, and it's not until Spartacus has sliced off his head that the crowd realizes what they have seen. As Spartacus is cheered by the crowd, it begins to rain. Capua's drought has seemed endless, and right at the moment of Spartacus' victory, the sky opens and the drought is over. Batiatus coins Spartacus as 'The Bringer of Rain, The Slayer Of Theokoles.' Badly beaten, Crixus is carried off the sand as Spartacus becomes the new Champion of Capua.

Crixus and Naevia finally seal the deal
Lucretia has been banging Crixus regularly throughout the show. She and Batiatus are without children, and Lucretia seeks a stronger seed to see the job done. But Crixus' affections are not for Lucretia, he is in love with Naevia, Lucretia's most trusted slave. Crixus notices one day during training that Naevia is flirting with one of the guards. When she goes down to the cellar where they usually meet, Crixus accuses her of betraying him. But Naevia reveals that she was only flirting with the guard to get his key, which she has stolen. As she opens the door that has divided them, Crixus finally gets to make love to her. It was a really romantic moment, and it makes you realize that Crixus is much more vulnerable and soft than he lets on.

Segovax vs. Spartacus
With Ashur in tow, Batiatus goes to the market to purchase new slaves for training. One of these slaves is Segovax, a man who *ahem* possess huge potential. Ilithyia, the wife of Gaius Claudius Glaber (the Roman legatus who captured Spartacus and enslaved his wife, Sura) decides that she wants to own one of the new gladiators and become his domina. She chooses Segovax, and entrusts him to murder Spartacus in exchange for his freedom. While in the bathing quarters, Segovax sneaks up on Spartacus and tries to strangle. Surprisingly, Crixus is passing by and intervenes to save Spartacus' life. Batiatus punishes Segovax by crucifying him and cutting off his 'huge potential.' Both Lucretia and Batiatus become more aware of Ilithyia's intentions, and Lucretia plots to seek revenge against her for attempting to ruin the glory of the lutus.

Lucretia pulls a switcheroo on Ilithyia/Ilithyia vs. Licinia
After overhearing that Lucretia is going to set up Licinia with a gladiator, Ilithyia requests to have an intimate encounter with Crixus. Overcome with jealousy and wrath at the thought of Ilithyia lying with her lover, Lucretia plots to send her Spartacus instead. Painted in gold and covered with porcelain masks, Spartacus and Ilithyia unknowingly make love to each other. Lucretia and Licinia pull away the curtains in amusement, as Spartacus freaks out and begins to choke Ilithyia. Once the guards subdue him, Licinia laughs at Ilithyia for being such a whore. In a really surprising twist, Ilithyia attacks Licinia, bashing her face into the marble floor and killing her. With Lucretia as the only witness to the crime, Ilithyia has no choice but to submit herself to Lucretia in exchange for her silence. Lucretia is one smart bitch!

Setting up Solonius
After Numerius, the teenage son of Magistrate Clavius, orders Spartacus to kill Varro at his birthday party, Batiatus seeks revenge against Clavius. The birthday party was an attempt by Batiatus to speek to Clavius about gaining politcal office. When Clavius tells Batiatus that he doesn't stand a chance, Batiatus has Ashur and Aulus kidnap Clavius. Once word gets out the Clavius has gone missing, Ashur reveals to Solonius where Clavius is. Upon hearing this, Solonius finds Clavius in the underbelly of the city, with his throat cut. Batiatus arrives with an entourage of Roman soliders, to find Solonius with a dagger in his hand (used to cut Clavius' ropes). Batiatus orders for the arrest of Solonius, after long years of rivalry. Solonius is offered up to Spartacus in the arena, and for an old man, he lasts pretty long. Spartacus finishes the job by cutting of his head, much to the amusement of Batiatus and Lucretia. Solonius was their biggest competitor, and with him out of the way, they will dominate Capua.

Spartacus becomes himself again
Batiatus fulfills his promise to Spartacus when Sura arrives at the lutus. Unfortunately, she's dead. Batiatus tells Spartacus that a group of hijackers on the road to Capua have murdered Sura. Which isn't true at all, as we discover that Batiatus has his man Aulus kill her and make it seem as if he has been injured by the hijackers upon arrival. When Aulus is in the medical quarters, Spartacus examines his stomach to find that there is no wound. Aulus tells Spartacus that Batiatus was behind Sura's murder. Upon this discovery, Spartacus plots to 'kill them all' at a party Batiatus is hosting for the legatus Glaber. Needless to say, the finale of 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' is nothing short of a bloodbath. The series ends with Spartacus getting his revenge and leading the other gladiators in a parade of retribution.

Although there's so much more to discuss, these are my favorite moments from the series. 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' is one of my Top 5 favorite shows of all time, and it's not only because of the beauty in its brutality. The writing is incredible, and each story unfolds in a brilliant and complicated way. I'm very much looking forward to Janury 21st!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"The Kids Are All Right" is full of artificial sweetener, not strong enough for an Oscar: C+

"The Kids Are All Right" is just shy of being all right.

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star as life partners Nick and Jules, living with their teenage son and daughter in suburbia (Joni is played by Mia Wasikowska and Laser is played by Josh Hutcherson). When Joni turns eighteen, her brother Laser convinces her to track down the man who donated his sperm to Nic and Jules. Enter Paul (played by Mark Ruffalo), a laid-back restaurant owner with little regard for taking life seriously. And so begins the family drama.

Once in a while, a movie comes along that portrays a supposed dysfunctional family with rose-colored glasses, witty humor and a happy ending - such as "Little Miss Sunshine" - and these movies, though deep in thought and riddled with nostalgic feelings of family values our generation has lost, simply don't impress me.

How stereotypical is it that a pair of lesbians named their children Joni (after Joni Mitchell, every lesbian's favorite recording artist, apparently) and Laser?

Is it true that lesbians watch gay man porn to get in the mood?

How do you tell which one is 'the man' and which one is 'the wife?'

Do lesbians really drink that much wine?

These questions distracted me from enjoying the movie. I know it probably wasn't intended to be a "gay movie" (such as 'Brokeback Mountain'), but rather a character analysis on the structure of the modern family. The thing is, there was too much focus on Nick and Jules that, in the end, I felt like I had just watched a 'gay' movie. Now, mind you, I have absolutely no issues with gays or lesbians; what I have a problem with is false advertising. The drama of the film felt artifical rather than realistic.

Granted, the movie had some golden moments that touched my heart, I will admit that. Although, Josh Hutcherson probably wouldn't have been my first choice - his face reminds me of Sam Worthington, the guy with no facial expressions, you know? Anyway, Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore were the best part of the movie for me, while Annette Bening made a decent comeback.

Although it had a pretentious air about it, "The Kids Are All Right" was well-written. I don't expect it win any Oscars, and I truly hope it doesn't such as its predecessor 'Little Miss Sunshine,' which wasn't worthy, in my opinion. This movie will please critics and the academy, but as for me, I wasn't blown away.

(P.S. - If you want to watch a tangible, intricate family drama, I would recommend watching 'Rachel Getting Married')

Monday, January 3, 2011

"True Grit" has a solid cast and a compelling script, but shy of perfection: B

The last time I ventured out of my cave to see a Coen movie, I was sorely disappointed. “No Country for Old Men” wasn’t really my cup of tea, despite all of the rave reviews. The pace was the problem for me, as most of their movies tend to be slow-going and ripe with self-importance. “True Grit” was a slight improvement on the standard Coen formula, but not without some imperfections. If it wasn’t for the excellent cast and the brilliant screenplay, I doubt this movie would’ve been worth its weight in gold.

“True Grit” is a story of revenge, redemption, and enlightenment. Young Mattie Ross (played superbly by the talented Hailee Steinfeld) seeks a man with ‘true grit’ to hunt down the jerk-off who killed her daddy. She’s pointed in the direction of Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a worn-down U.S. Marshal with a smart mouth and a belly full of booze. The odd couple meets up with a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) and the three embark on a journey to hunt down the murderous outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).

The relationship between Rooster and Mattie is the central focus of the movie. Rooster has no intention of being a baby-sitter, and he’s surprised to find that young Mattie holds her own. She has a sharp tongue and she means business. Rooster, on the other hand, doesn’t have much faith in the mission and tends to fool around on the trail (particularly, a humorous scene in which he and LaBoeuf have a shooting contest). The trio gets into their fair share of trouble, and there are a few moments when things take a really bad turn.

As far as action goes, there are only a few scenes that make you a bit anxious. The trailer is chopped and cut to make the movie look like a rootin-tootin’ Western, when in reality it’s a slow character drama that takes its sweet time. Be prepared for some disappointment in the last leg of the movie, when Tom Chaney meets his fate.

Now, the film itself is quite beautiful. The landscapes and woodlands are indicative of the period, as well as the detail in the script (the language seems appropriate for the period). I really enjoyed the way everyone spoke, which might sound silly, but it’s really difficult to paint such a vivid picture of a time in history without the characters speaking in accurate lingo.

*Also, I need to mention that it was nice to see Barry Pepper again! I think he’s a great addition to the movie, or any movie for that matter, and I hope he gets more work.*

Here’s the bottom line on “True Grit”: The acting was flawless, the script was great, the cinematography was impressive, and the story was emotionally fulfilling. The lack of action and realism along with the sorry, half-assed ending sort of disappointed me, but not enough to give this movie a bad mark. It’s worth watching!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...