Wednesday, December 30, 2009

5 Thoughts I Had While Watching "A Single Man"

I might have to rethink my "Best Films List" now that I watched "A Single Man". I really fell in love with this film - here are some of my thoughts.

1. Colin Firth is finally in a challenging role - I always like Colin as an actor, but he seems to play the same type of character in every film - the slightly awkward, sarcastic but charming guy that he played in the Bridget Jones films. This role is completely different and he nails it. It was heavy and emotional, yet it was never dramatic. I was holding back tears through the films entirety - mostly because I felt like he was holding back tears through the film as well. Nomination worthy - alongside Jeremy Renner and Shartlo Copley, it is definitely a tough call on who should win an Oscar this year.

2. The story is classic - Based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, I am quite surprised it took this long for a film version to be made. It is depressing as hell, but surprisingly uplifting - the tale of someone who is so heart broken (due to the death of his lover) that he decides to end his life at the end of the day. He proceeds through the day as he normally would, but with a new outlook he begins to notice and appreciate the littlest things that make life bearable.

3. Tom Ford made a beautiful film - The story was not only told well, the film was visually stunning. The contrast and use of color, the composition of objects, the detailed camera work - all of these elements prove that Ford is a true auteur filmmaker. Just as he would create a suit, he created a film that is stylish, tailored and timeless.

4. I don't like Christopher Hoult - The kid from About A Boy. He was super annoying in that film, but he was a kid (and I think he was supposed to be annoying). However, I am a recent fan of the amazing BBC show Skins (I just finished season 2 yesterday) and I can say with confidence he is still annoying. I don't think he can act, he has this smirk on his face ALL THE TIME even when it isn't appropriate for the scene. In this film he is supposed to be this pretty boy college kid who has a crush on his professor, but I felt that he was incredibly miscast - first his American accent was unbearable, second they had to put so much makeup on him to give him a "California glow" it was distracting. I am nervous that he will be a "Hollywood staple" now that he is cast in the much anticipated Clash of the Titans. EW.

5. Matthew Goode has redeemed himself - He was truly awful in Watchmen, but he was superb in this film.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Thoughts on 5 Recently Released DVD's: Part 6

Unfortunately I was disappointed in ALL 5 of these films.

1. Funny People - I didn't hear anything great about this film and have a pretty low affinity for Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen - so my expectations weren't very high. I was really impressed by the first hour of the film. It was funny (referring to Jonah Hill as the "triple x version" of Rogen is hysterical) and touching (the life of a comedian isn't always full of laughs) and moved pretty quickly. However, the next hour was so boring and dragged on forever (it had a total running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes which was torture). The film was saved mostly by its supporting cast: Jason Schwartzman was hysterical as an actor who just got his "big break", Leslie Mann is always delightful, Eric Bana proved to have comedic skill and two Parks and Recreation actors (Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza) were a nice surprise. I liked that it was a comedy but it had a real story behind it - instead of gross out humor, it just could have been edited down by 45 minutes.

2. Paper Heart - This hybrid "documentary" is by far one of the worst things I have ever watched. It stars Charlyne Yi - a girl who supposedly does not believe in love, so she sets out to create a film questioning the reality of "love". While creating this film, she meets Michael Cera and a relationship ensues. There are so many problems with this film, I don't even know where to begin. First, Charlyne has very little imagination and seems to think that "love" equals "marriage," she tries on wedding dresses, she goes to a Vegas wedding chapel and a divorce court for her interviews. The only time she touches on anything interesting is when she interviews a chemist who concurs that some people might not have the ability to love due to chemical reactions in their brain - but this is quickly dropped in order to interview high school sweethearts. Second, Charlene has got to have one of the most annoying personalities ever - from the very beginning she sets herself up as pretentious by introducing her famous comedian "friends," then she pretends like she doesn't like Michael Cera's flirtations (even though he is obvi way out of her league) and then it is obvious that she actually does believe in love because a true romantic skeptic would ask more cynical questions. Furthermore, and I know this is harsh - but the reason Charlyne doesn't know love is because any sane guy would run far away from her after hearing her annoying, fake laugh and her pretend vapidness would make any guy uncomfortable. Her maturity level was about the same as the 10 year olds she interviewed in Atlanta (which btw - she must have regretted filming a little girl saying her "dream guy" was Chris Brown). Third, the film was completely unoriginal, it didn't tell me anything new, and frankly it just annoyed the crap out of me as it would any non-believer. I don't think I would have sat thru the whole thing if it wasn't for Cera. The last reason that I hated this film is because Charlyne pretends like she doesn't have a choice when her relationship is being filmed but it is obvious that that whole relationship is fake (although rumored to be based on their actual relationship - poor Cera). She is the writer and executive producer of the film - if she didn't want to do it then she SHOULDN'T have! O.k I am done now.

3. Julie and Julia - I never wanted to see this film in the theaters because I have absolutely zero interest in Julia Child or anything involving cooking, but I figured I should watch it to see Meryl Streeps much hyped performance. The film is split into 2 different stories based on 2 different books which I find interesting. Julie is a cubicle dweller living in NYC, dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 (it is set in 2002). In order to deal with her stress, she cooks and she she decides to write a blog about cooking (yes, that is the whole story). The other story is about Julia becoming the iconic Julia Child (which probably should have been the whole film). Amy Adams is still the same character she is in every film (cutting her hair and making her look elfish didn't help...), while Meryl did a great job of course - however Julia Child's voice was incredibly irritating so watching Meryl impersonate her was even more so. The only thing that I found interesting was it's relevant look at the power of the blog. Oh and a nice surprise appearance by Jane Lynch.

4. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard - Another painful to watch comedy that had so much potential. The cast was great - Jeremy Piven, Ed Helms, Tony Hale and Ken Jeong. How could these four funny people make anything but a funny film? Right? I am not sure what happened- for the most part I would blame the screenplay. It was lame, pointless, predictable and lacked any originality. The whole mystery behind "what happened in Querquie" was completely ludicrous and the "surprise" appearance of Will Ferrell was just plain sad. I think that I laughed once - and it was within the first 5 minutes of the film.

5. Rudo Y Cursi - This film was decent, I just expected more from its key players. Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and Carlos Cuaron proved to make a great team with Y Tu Mama Tambien plus Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu is one of my favorite filmmakers (21 Grams and Amores Perros are among my favorite films) and he is one of the many talented producers of this film - so it should in theory be amazing. Right? Not really. The film is about 2 brothers who both get "discovered" as talented Soccer (football?) players, although one really wants to sing. It is about how money, fame and success effects your personality and your priorities. It wasn't incredibly moving or memorable. It did have a few amusing scenes and I enjoyed the chemistry between the 2 main actors - they make believable brothers.

10 Best and Worst Films of 2009

Here are my picks for the best & worst films of 2009

10 Best Films of 2009 -

1. The Hangover
2. District 9
3. The Hurt Locker
4. I Love You, Man
5. Away We Go
6. The Brothers Bloom
7. Up In The Air
8. Observe and Report
9. The Invention of Lying
10. 500 Days of Summer - Best Film of the Year.

Of course there are a few films that I haven't seen that I have high hopes for, so my list might change upon seeing An Education, Avatar, Invictus, A Single Man and Broken Embraces.

10 Worst Films of 2009 -

1. Year One
2. G.I Joe: Rise of Cobra
3. Public Enemies
4. Killshot
5. He's Just Not That Into You
6. Paper Heart
7. The Goods:Live Hard, Sell Hard
8. Whatever Works
9. Land of the Lost
10. The Soloist

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 10 Biggest Golden Globe Nomination Snubs

As you know, my favorite awards show is the Golden Globes - however this year I am highly disappointed in the nominees. They did get some of it right (Michael C. Hall & Dexter, Sandy B gets 2, JGL is finally recognized, Glee! is shown lots of love and The Hangover is the funniest film of the year), but here is a list of the most egregious snubs:


1. Breaking Bad/Aaron Paul/Bryan Cranston - When it was snubbed for a Golden Globe last year, I just thought it was an oversight that would soon be corrected. But ignoring the best show on television for a second year is simply unjust. It has been nominated for a total of 9 Emmy's (in which Cranston has won for Best Actor both years!). I have already discussed how in awe I am of Aaron Paul's sublime and heartbreaking performance this past year, I am shocked and appalled that he was ignored. Mad Men is not the only show on AMC - I realize that it appeals to a wider audience but this is an award show that is supposed to recognize the quality of a show and it's actors NOT its popularity.

2. Amy Poehler - Amy is hands down the funniest woman on television (and has been for several years now...), but for some reason she keeps being overshadowed by Tina Fey (whom I also adore, but come on - last year was her year. Let someone else shine!). The comedy category is very competitive this year ( I think all of the nominated shows are fantastic - and am very happy to see that Two and 1/2 Men, How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty are rightfully ignored but there are several shows missing - Weeds, Californication, Community). I completely understand why Parks and Recreation didn't get a nom, in lieu of Modern Family and Glee!. BUT - A nom for Poehler would have sufficed.

3. The Cast of Modern Family - All of them, Any of them...someone should have been nominated. It is the only show that is nominated without any of it's actors recognized as well. I assumed Julie Bowen would get the nomination since she is a t.v veteran (appearing on some of the best television shows such as Lost, Weeds and Boston Legal). But I think most of the hilarious credit goes to Ty Burrell - he is absolutely fantastic.

4. Jennifer Carpenter - Hooray for Dexter and the best actor on television Michael C. Hall. I admit that I am a season behind on the series (so no I have not seen the season finale that E!Online described as "one of the most shocking deaths in television history" - so obviously I HAD to read the spoiler and now I hate myself...), but I assume that the show is just as good as it has been from the first season. Somehow Jennifer has been inexplicably ignored for her work on the show since the beginning of the series.

5. Weeds - I am always a little uncomfortable with the show always included in the "comedy" category - I mean it is funny, but it's also some serious f***ed up television. So, No - I don't think it should have been nominated against such comedies as The Office, but it is an amazing show - so maybe it should be in the drama category? Either way - Mary Louise Parker rules! I think this is the first year since the show premiered that she was snubbed.


6. Marc Webb - All of the nominated directors are for dramatic films (although it is clear that Up in the Air was clearly marketed as a "comedy" and is suddenly a "drama" to up it's chances come Academy Award nominations...). This year Marc Webb made the best film of the year. (yes, I realize that there are still several films that I have to see before I can actually claim that as fact...but considering that the film is in my top 5 favorite films ever - I don't see any soon to be released films like Avatar and Invictus being that great). He should have at least been nominated. I would also argue that Neill Blomkamp made the most unique film this year (District 9 for which he did receive a nomination for the screenplay at least).

7. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty - Probably the best acting ensemble this year belongs to them for their raw and exhilarating performances in The Hurt Locker, but all 3 of them were snubbed. I actually thought Renner was a "given" considering the rave reviews he has been earning - I am sure the Academy won't make the same mistake.

8. Shartlo Copley - My favorite performance of the year was snubbed! I have not seen the 4 out of the 5 nominated performances but there is no way in hell they are better than Copley's - and he definitely out-acted Clooney by a billion times.

9. Marion Cotillard - She was nominated this year - just for the wrong film. Her supporting performance in Public Enemies was the only real reason to see the film (ok Johnny Depp is ALWAYS a reason to see a film...).

10. Maya Rudolph, Zooey Deshanel - They should be joining Sandra Bullock & Meryl Streep in the Best Actress in a Comedy category. Julia Roberts for Duplicity is almost laughable considering how mediocre that film was (and her performance). I don't necessarily think that Rudolph or Deshanels performances were award-worthy, but they were the best of the year - which is actually quite sad. I truly hope Sandra wins - she has the art of "comedic actress" down to a science.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

5 Reason's Why I Loved "Up In The Air", 3 Reason's Why It Is Not My Favorite Film of 2009

"Up in the Air" will definitely end up on my "Best Films of 2009" list, however I thought for sure it would be my favorite film of the year. First here are reasons why I liked the film -

1. The ending - I won't spoil the ending for anyone, but I will say that it is not your typical "Hollywood" ending. The great part for me is that as the film was reaching the end I thought to myself "wouldn't it be great if the film ended with...." but thought for sure that it would never happen, but guess what! It did. That rarely happens to me.

2. George Clooney playing himself - Clooney is perhaps best known for being an eternal bachelor claiming he will never marry (again), he charms his audience with his smiling eyes and his seductive smile - it is obvious that he is our generations Carey Grant. The role of Ryan Bingham (an eternal bachelor/businessman who spends more time traveling than he does at home) seems to be written for George. It is amazing to watch on screen because the character eventually realizes the flaws in his theory of self-isolation, which allows us to see his vulnerability - and who doesn't want to see an A-list actor have insecurities and self-doubt? However, should Clooney get an Oscar for it? My answer is no.

3. The many themes - This film takes on a lot, without really forcing any one idea on its audience. I really enjoyed the part when Anna Kendrick talks about what her dream guy is and all of the goals that she should have already accomplished (at the young age of 23). Clooney and Farmiga sit opposite her watching with sympathy. I found myself in the middle this generational gap - angry that I should be at a different stage in my life, but finally realizing that life just can't plan anything (life is in in the "journey" not the "destination" kind of thinking). This scene is just written so realistically well - i watched in awe. I also liked Clooney's motivational speaking topic - "the empty back-pack". In theory this idea of having no baggage seems inspirational - so much so that he actually convinces himself that he is happy with his life. That is until reality kicks in and he realizes that having "stuff" in his life like love and a family are actually a fulfilling and essential part of living.

4. Reitmans players - I love when directors stay loyal to certain actors. This film had Jason Bateman, J.K Simmons - even Sam Elliott

5. Vera Farmiga - Amazing. She portrays this confidence and sultriness that makes it perfectly believable that someone like George Clooney would fall for her.

Now here are the reasons that it is not my favorite film of the year-

1. It wasn't as funny as it should have been - It was amusing through its entirety, however both Juno and Thank You for Smoking are hilarious and satirical - both features that Up in the Air lacked. Where is that biting sarcasm that Jason Reitman is so good at?

2. Anna Kendrick - I think she did a good job in this film, however it is not a nomination worthy performance. The audience isn't necessarily supposed to like her character, which is obvious by her tight-lipped, overly tense body language and cold demeanor - but Kendrick did a great job at breaking the character down and showing emotion (without actually showing emotion). I just wasn't "wowed" like I expected to be. It doesn't help that her performance has been hyped up so much, it set the bar really high for such a newcomer.

3. 500 Days of Summer was better - There were a few films like Up in the Air that were released this year that did the whole "non-love" love story theme, but I think the best one was Summer. It was far more entertaining and whimsical, it was funny and heart-breaking and most of all it was inspiring.