Thursday, August 31, 2006


Babel received recognition and significant buzz at this year's Cannes Film Festival, has really mobalized itself as a critical favorite.

I think Babel will be an excellent movie, and that many critics will love it, give it critical awards and paste it into various spots of their top 10.

I am also anxious to see this film BUT, many people have been quick to include it in their top 5 choices for what they predict will get nominated for best picture.

As I did with the movie the Blood Diamond, I am going to site the cast and crew that have previously been nominated, to get a sense of what type of contenders and repeat nominees may surface in all categories including technical categories.

Previous Academy Award nominees in the cast and crew of Babel:

Certainly not a bad crew, and I think some of this crew and quite possibly some of the acting talent, could get recognition by the Academy, but I don't think Alejandro González Iñárritu's creative film will be mainstream enough to get a best picture nomination.

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Helen Mirren is The Queen (two in fact)

The new movie poster for the film The Queen looks awesome (previous post about the film here).

It'll be interesting to see how this film is perceived in Venice this week, especially Helen Mirren's performance as Queen Elizabeth II following the death of Princess Di.

I can't help but assume that Helen Mirren will get an academy award nomination for her performance in this modern-biopic.

And what if she wins? Wouldn't it be interseting, especially considering just last weekend she won the Emmy (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie) for playing Queen Elizabeth I in the TV movie Elizabeth I?

That would seem like quite an accomplishment to win awards for portrayls of Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II in the same life time, let alone the same year.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Venice Film Festival Kicks Off Today

The Venice Film Festival kicked off today. Last year at the Venice Film Festival Brokeback mountain was screened and won the prestigious Golden Lion before it received it's academy award nominations including best picture.

(Also, other films like The Constant Gardener and Good Night, and Good Luck also screened. David Strathairn took home the festivals award for Best Actor for Good Night, and Good Luck)

This year, some possible critical favorites and award contenders will be shown at this festival which goes from August 30th-September 9th.

This year 21 films are in competition for the Golden Lion are...

Black Dahlia, The (2006) - Brian De Palma
Bobby (2006) - Emilio Estevez
Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarón
Coeurs (2006) - Alain Resnais
Daratt (2007) - Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Ejforija Russia (2006) - Ivan Vyrypayev
Fallen (2006) - Barbara Albert
Fong juk (2006) - Johnny To
Fountain, The (2006) - Darren Aronofsky
Golden Door, The (2006) - Emanuele Crialese
Hei yanquan (2006) - Ming-liang Tsai
Hollywoodland (2006) - Allen Coulter (I)
Intouchable, L' (2006) - Benoît Jacquot
Mushi-Shi (2006) - Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Nue propriété (2006) - Joachim Lafosse
Paprika (2006) - Satoshi Kon
Queen, The (2006) - Stephen Frears
Quei loro incontri (2006) - Jean-Marie Straub; Danièle Huillet
Sang sattawat (2006) - Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Stella che non c'è, La (2006) - Gianni Amelio
Zwartboek (2006) - Paul Verhoeven (I)

I am particularly interested to see how films like The Queen, Hollywoodland, The Fountain, Bobby, and The Black Dahlia are perceived and how these films might play into this award season.

Previous post mentioning films that are screening:
Bobby: The Other Bobby Movie
The Queen: The Days Following the Death of Princess Diana

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

O'Reilly, Jesus, & Everclear's "Hater"

The rock band Everclear has a new song whose video has created some controversy. The song is called "Hater."frontman Art Alexakis in a head to head interview with Bill O'Reilly can be seen in this video.

This clip from the O'Reilly Factor where band frontman Art Alexakis responds to O'Reilly's criticism of the video which hit the internet about a month ago.

O'Reilly says this video is controvrsial because:
1. The video is unclear and fails to spell out it's message
2. The video depicts Jesus (or a heathen version of Jesus) doing immoral things
3. Dedicating this video to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson does not make sense and is judgemental

Alexakis supports this video because:
1. It's artful in it uses icnons
2. It's a "break-up song" and the video was written to show hate in a unique way
3. It makes a saliant point to criticizes people who claim to be men of God but are unproductive, unjust, unholy, and hypocritical.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

3 African Countries, 3 Decades, 3 Stories

Film: The Blood Diamond
Director: Edward Zwick
Release Date: December 15, 2006
African Country: Sierra Leone
Decade: 1990s
Lead African Male: Djimon Hounsou
Lead Caucasian Male: Leonardo DiCaprio
In Five words: Two Search for Conflict Diamond

Film: Catch A Fire
Director: Phillip Noyce
Release Date: October 27, 2006 (limited)
African Country: South Africa
Decade: 1980s
Lead African-American Male: Derek Luke
Lead Caucasian Male: Tim Robbins
In Five words: Police Investigate Man During Apartheid

Film: The Last King of Scotland
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Release Date: September 27, 2006 (limited)
African Country: Uganda
Decade: 1970s
Lead African-American Male: Forest Whitaker
Lead Caucasian Male: James McAvoy
In Five Word: Scotish Physician Dilemna With Dictator

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First Thoughts on the Last King of Scotland

I finally got a chance today to watch the trailer for the upcoming film The Last King of Scotland.

This film is striking and very interesting.

It tells the real life story of Idi Amin, the dictator of Uganda during the 1970s. Forest Whitaker plays the part of the dictator, in a compelling way that will surely garner him Academy Award attention.

The buzz for Whitaker has been around all year, but The Last King of Scotland tells the stories from the perspective of Idi Amin's personal physician, Nicholas Garrigan, a young adventursome guy from Scotland. This role is played by James McAvoy who played the part of Mr. Tumnus the Faun in the most recent adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I was very impressed with McAvoy's portrayl of Mr. Tumnus, and I think that his role in The Last King of Scotland could garner him some critical attention. I'll be interested to see if this is the case.

For whatever reason, the preview for this film, directed by Kevin Macdonald, looks like it could be a very compelling and unique film, or a snoozer with some powerful acting by Forest Whitaker and company. In some ways this trailer reminds me in some faint way of Fernando Meirelles great film City of God, but with expectations like that I'm only setting myself up to be disappointed.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Survivor 13 Goes Hollywood

CBS's hit reality show Survivor has been credited with bringing the reality television crazy to network primetime. Hailed, for bringing fresh unseen faces of everyday America into our common everyday world.

Since then, we've seen other reality shows follow this pattern of casting the unknown from across the United States, who strangely because a part of our pop-ethos. the upcoming season of Survivor 13 of the 20 cast members are from California, certainly not the cross section of American life. And even more striking, 9 of those people are from Los Angeles and it's surrounding area (Venice & Marina Del Rey). (source)

In addition, Survivor: Cook Islands stars Sundra Oakley and Jonathan Penner (both pictured right) each have decent list of past acting credits on, both having roles on different different franchises of CSI.

How many more of these "real-life Survivor characters" are "want to make in big in Hollywood characters?"

In 2000, the concept of unknowns exposed to entire world was an enchanting concept for television viewers, perhaps today the Unknown is overexposed?

Maybe the casting department for Survivor is having a hard time finding attractive able bodied people across the US who are willing to travel overseas for 39 days at a time?*

Perhaps it was hard to find 5 Asian-Americans/Hispanics/African-Americans/Whites that they felt would round out the contestants the way that they wanted to? Or maybe it was just too much work?

It's hard to tell.

*Normal seasons have 16 contestants on an island for 39 days. Will this season with 20 contestants, leave Jeff Probst and his crew on the island for more than 39 days of filming?

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Update: Vomit Inducing Summer Movies

On May 2nd I posted my list of Vomit Inducing Summer Movies. The last of those films, Beerfest is released in theaters today.

True Confession:
Of the 17 films on the list, I saw 2 of the films. Both at the invitation of others. In both cases I enjoyed the films. Those two films were... Wordplay& Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Not Even a 2006 Film:
No one had a chance to see The Reaping, although I caught the trailer a few times, this Hillary Swank film about the plagues has had multiple release date changes and is now coming out March 2007.

The Box Office Speaks:
Currently The Break-up & Talladega Nights are the highest grossing films of the 17 on the list. Poseidon with it's $160 million dollar production budget only gross $60 million.

The Tomatoes Speak:
The 16 movies (The list of 17 minus The Reaping) in order of freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

95% fresh: Wordplay (read note above...saw it and loved it)
72% fresh: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
70% fresh: Brothers of the Head
68% fresh: Snakes on a Plane
49% fresh: Beerfest
36% fresh: The Lake House
36% fresh: The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift
33% fresh: The Break-up
31% fresh: Poseidon
27% fresh: The Omen
21% fresh: You, Me, and Dupree
15% fresh: Pulse
14% fresh: Little Man
11% fresh: Garfield's A Tale of Two Kitties
7% fresh: Material Girls
6% fresh: See No Evil

I guess I lucked out by seeing the two highest rated films off my list...the one film I really missed by not including on the list was Zoom staring Tim Allen and Courtney Cox which received a 0% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

StrangeCulture stories relating to the 17 movies on the list:
Tallagega Nights: John C. Reilly Choosing Comedy
Wordplay: Square Fillers: War vs. Play
Wordplay: Ellen Ripstein Responds on StrangeCulture
The Reaping: Biblical Horror
4 movies in the same weekend: Stink-fest Movie Weekend

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Steady Stream of Tears

There are movies that have made me cry. Often for just a short moment, or at a scene built for creating a couple tear drops.

For me it's the most random combination of movies like Big Fish, Schindler's List, World Trade Center, For Love of the Game, Dead Poet's Society, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and I am Sam (to name a few).

But the films were I have cried most consistently through out the majority of the films are Hotel Rwanda and the documentary Paper Clips.

Last night, my wife and I watched Paper Clips and it was the most bizarre experience that I cried almost from start to finish...not because the entire film was overly emotional but it hit me in all the emotional themes that sometimes "get me."

Why are these the two movies that have made me continuously emotional? They are completly different films, but still there are many common themes between these two films. Can you seen any themes between Hotel Rwanda and Paper Clips. (I can see a few)

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Survivor 13 Adds Major Racial Element

Are the new people Surivors more tan than usual?

CBS's hit series Survivor: Cook Islands is entering it's 13th season, and this time changed up in a major way...they'll begin the season dividing the tribes by race.

Normally, there are 16 contestants when the season begins, this year there are 20.

Traditionally they begin the season in 2 tribes that have gotten mixed and mingled through various random ways. The 2 tribes at the begin are sometimes created randomly or picked by the producers. Last season on Surivor: Exile Island the show began with 4 tribes of 4 divided older men, younger men, older women, younger women.

This year they will begin with 4 tribes of 5 people divided by race. The four groups (CBS's terms) are white, African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic.

These teams will probably get intermingled and mixed early on, but surely this is a bold move to create stir and pick up viewers.

What are people saying?

"white America will learn the occult secret of how the little-understood Hispanics make fuego in their secretive barrios" -- Shakespeare's Sister

"I can't believe how bad of an idea this is. Please, all you people out there still watching Survivor: give this one a miss." --Feminist Engineer

"the term, the 'white tribe,' really makes me uncomfortable. are they serious?" --blac(k)ademic

"I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in the CBS board room when it was decided" --Kimberly Ann

"what I'm really looking forward to - the following season of Survivor will feature teams consisting respectively of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. It will be called Survivor: Holy Land, and the winner gets Lebanon." --Rod

"I'll watch to see how the Asians do and also so I can yell at them on television when they do something stupid..." --The Hyphenator!

"However, I will make a prediction. The Hispanics will win. Why? They'll do the challenges that the other tribes just won't do." --Rick Moore

"I guess they are desperate for attention. We're supposed to talk about them. Should we fall for it?" --Althouse

"If the folks at CBS want to use Survivor to talk about race, they should figure out how Black people manage to survive with inadequate health care, diminishing job opportunities, poor schools, and institutionalized racism." --Marc Lamont Hill

"...looking at the Olympics, you'd have to say the white tribe would be the best swimmers." --Rush Limbaugh

Pictured above are Sundra, Cao Boi, & Ozzy.

Survivor: Cook Islands premiers premiering Thursday, September 14.

(Thanks to Anthony & my mom for sending me e-mail about this today)

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More Unfortunate than Infamous

in-fa-mous (adjective) 1. having an extremely bad reputation 2. deserving of or causing an evil reputation

un-for-tu-nate (adjective) 1. suffering from bad luck 2. marked by or inviting misfortune

Friday the 13th (October 13, 2006) Infamous will come out in theaters in the US (at least in LA and New York) after a premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

Infamous tells this story (from While researching his book In Cold Blood, writer Truman Capote (Jones) develops a close relationship with convicted murderers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.

Sound familiar??? It's a very similar story to 2005's Capote which received 5 Academy award nominations including the best actor Oscar for Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Bummer for Toby Jones who is playing the part of Truman Capote. Toby Jones, is best known to me for playing the voice of Dobby the House Elf in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Smee in Finding Neverland.

Bummber for Sandra Bullock who is playing the part of Harper Lee which Catherine Keener got a supporting actress nod for last year.

Bummer for Douglas McGrath who wrote and directed this fun and gutsy film when Bennett Miller was nominated for best director last year and Dan Futterman was nominated for best adapted screenplay last year.

Bummer for Warner Independent who are distributing Infamous.

Bummer, bummer, bummer.

The cast for infamous also includes soon-to-be-James-Bond Daniel Craig & Lee Pace (playing the killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickock) as well as stars Peter Bogdanovich, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini, and Sigourney Weaver.

See the trailer here.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bugs, Bugs, Everywhere

You can tell by my list of vomit enducing summer movies that I'm not too keen on the serge in horror movies that has taken place over the past couple years.

But, the film Bug has caught my attention because...

(1) Ashley Judd has gotten rave reviews since this film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival earlier in the year.

(2) Michael Shannon (pictured right, with Judd) was a standout in World Trade Center (as the marine) and I think his career could begin to take off.

(3) The story seems intriguing (although reminds me somewhat of the opening scene in A Scanner Darkly)

The Story...
A paranoid war veteran sees invicible bugs crawling everywhere.

The film is directed by William Friedkin (who won an academy award for The French Connection and was nominated for The Exorcist).

The film comes out in limited release December 1st, 2006. The preview for the film can be viewed here.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dead's Man Chest - over $400 million domestic gross

After coming in at number 8 in the US Box Office this weekend (just over $5 million dollars), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest has passed the 400 million dollar marker.

It's currently the 5th highest grossing film (domestic box office) of all time*

1. Titanic, $600 million
2. Shrek 2, $441 million
3. Star Wars: Episode I, $431 million
4. Spider-Man, $403 million
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, $401 million (as of 8/20/06)

What's the draw to Pirates of the Caribbean to make it a break out success...I mean, c'mon it's based on a Disney World ride about pirates?

It can only be Johnny Depp in the role of Jack Sparrow. He's created a unique and iconic film character that's funny, dramatic, and has a humble humanistic nature unlike most other summer blockbuster heroes.

* This number does not include Star Wars: New Hope which made 460 million but in 3 release time periods 1977 (307 million), 1982 (re-issue, 15 million), 1997 (special edition 138 million) or E.T. with three releases 1982 (359 million), 1985 (re-issue, 40 million), 2002 (20th Anniversary 35 million).

figures via boxofficemojo

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Blood Diamond: I am Hopeful

I am hopeful that The Blood Diamond could be a great film.

Director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Glory) brings this interesting story due out in theaters December 15, 2006...just in time for award season.

The movie tells the story of two men(Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou) from very different backgrounds searching for a rare pink diamond. All this takes place during civil war in Sierra Leon during the 1990s.

Previous Academy Award nominees in the cast and crew of The Blood Diamond:

Could any of these people receive recognition for their role in this film??? Good cast, an issue film, with some technical standouts...I think so.

Picture above via FirstShowing.

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Chris Carey (Editor, Responds to Strange Culture

Chris Carey is the editor of, the Mark Cuban related financial "journalism" site mentioned in my recent post: Mark Cuban Supports Slinging Mud For Money.

Former St. Louis Dispatch Reporter Chris Carey responded to my posting via e-mail saying:

The only quibble I have is with this paragraph:

"Mark Cuban will short stocks prior to the publication of reports on shareslueth website. Then when the stock price falls he will make piles of money."

I think it should say "if" the stock price falls, because there is no guarantee that our reports will have a negative impact on the stocks we write about

And he won't be shorting the stock of every company we write about.

Also, Mark has said that he won't trade in and out of the market to capitalize on short- term price swings, but rather will hold his position until there's a material change at the company. That means he's expecting a sustained, long-term decline in the stock price -- the sort of thing that verifies our reporting.

I thought this was interesting, and so here's my correction...

IF stock prices fall Mark Cuban will make piles of Money.

Thanks Chris for you your clarifications.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Samuel L. Jackson's: Best and Worst

Today, August 18th, 2006 is an important day.

Not only is it my wife's birthday (Happy Birthday!) it is also the release day of 2 movies off of my vomit enducing summer movie list: Material Girls (staring the Hillary and Haylie Duff) and the notorious Snakes on a Plane.

Back in April I asked people to sort through the best and worst of Samuel L. Jackson's work.

The nominees for best Samuel L. Jackson role:
  • Unbreakable
  • Pulp Fiction
  • The Negotiator
  • Die Hard 3
  • Changing Lanes

The nominees for worst Samuel L. Jackson role:
  • Star Wars: Episode III
  • The Red Violin
  • xXx
  • Johnny Suede
  • National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon I
  • Deep Blue Sea

In honor of Snakes on a Plane coming out in theaters feel free to vote by leaving a comment or writing in your own vote if the movie you'd choose is not listed.

Thanks to those who helped create this list of nominations.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thoughts on Oliver Stone's World Trade Center

People wonder if this movie "World Trade Center" is too soon. After seeing the film the answer is nah, of course not. It's a real life story, and art is about creating a lens to help understand truth, beauty, ideas, and things that words alone cannot express. A lot of words have been expressed post-9/11, and words alone can not express human emotion and help create understanding.

Is the movie good? My friend Mitsu called this film a "one and done." You wouldn't want to buy this and watch it over and over again with a tub of buttered popcorn. But, Oliver Stone tells the unique story of Port Authority Police Officers John McLoughlin and William Jimeno. And while the overall story takes part in a larger context this story makes a great piece of a much larger mosaic of what happened that day.

It reminded me of the 2,996 September 11th Tribute that D.Challener Roe has initated on his site. I encourage you to participate. I sent him an e-mail this morning and he says that so far 1900 names have been given out. There's still 1000 people who are left to be memoralized for this project. I urge you to take part.

Did the movie make me cry? Yea, it did a little bit. I know some people cried more, but I cry in some of the strangest movies, at some of the strangest parts. This movie doesn't force an emotional response as much as I thought it would. The homefront stories led by the characters wives (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and and Maria Bello) were emotional, but not in the heavy handed way I expected.

One of the most interesting parts of the story I thought was the Dave Karnes character (played by Michael Shannon). I thought every scene Shannon was in was very interesting, and that they made Karnes a very interesting piece of the Jimeno-McLoughlin story.

Was Nicolas Cage distracting in this role? I don't really think so. There were a few times were I felt like Cage was overacting, but that was probably because the injuries of his character were probably far worse than those of William Jimeno (played by Michael Pena).

Will World Trade Center play a role in the 79th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony? Many have currently begun predicting that World Trade Center will get nominated for best picture. I'm not sure about that, it will depend on the success of later movies this year and how award buzz developes, and whether current thoughts stick around. I am sure it will get nominated for something, and maybe Michael Pena will get a supporting nod, but I really am not certain.

How does it compare to United 93? I loved United 93. With it's unknown cast and complicatedly simple style and story telling, I really think it's a unique film and Greengrass certainly deserves a Best Director nod for his work on the film. But these stories are simply different. They take place on the same day and deal with September 11th themes of shock and uncertainty, and yet they involved different people, different places, and in different hard circumstances. In the years to come I think we will see many films that create a wide dialogue that discusses what happened and was experienced that day. And these films both just look at 9-11, the actual day, just think what stories will come out of the days that followed.

Are either of the film United 93 or World Trade Center more controversial than the other? No, neither are very controversial in my opinion, and Oliver Stone really doesn't introduce conspiracy into this story.

Did you know the real William Jimeno plays a port authority police in the film. Check him out next to Michael Pena in the picture above.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mark Cuban Supports Slinging Mud For Money

Mark Cuban, slides in and out controversy, (as well as in and out of different business ventures). His ability to weasel his way out of difficult situation reminds me of Aaron Eckhart's character in Thank You For Smoking.

Mark Cuban is the creative tech billionaire, crazy investor, movie shaker-upper, and verbose and often fined Dallas Mavericks owner.

His newest project involves a new website called where business reporter Christopher Carey will try to "shine a spotlight on questionable companies, to build an audience through unique, compelling stories and to generate multimedia content for other outlets, including HDNet and HDNet Films." (HDNet and HDNet films is owned by Cuban and friend Todd Wagner)

They admit that they will be reporting with "clear bias," while "scrutinize the people behind the companies" for entertainment and personal financial benefit. They also full disclosure that says they are going "to make personal investments based on information we uncover." (Read: Mark Cuban will short stocks prior to the publication of reports on shareslueth website. Then when the stock price falls he will make piles of money)

Mark Cuban and Christopher Carey's first victim, Xethanol Corp. (XNL) posted on August 7. Shareslueth criticizes shareholders like William Scott Smith and other with former SEC disciplinary problems. The post also claims that Xethanol makes energy claims are fabricated and embellished.

Is what Cuban is doing here legal? For now, yes. There's full disclosure. If anything I would foresee libel cases down the road, but not Insider Trading lawsuits.

Mark Cuban even responds to some of these thoughts on "responsible journalism" on his own blog, blog Maverick.

Cuban is smart and sneaky, and not necessarily an admirable person, just an interesting one. And I'll be interested to if nothing else continue to watch the films out of Magnolia Pictures (like Bubble, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Capturing the Friedmans) and films produced by 2929 entertainment (like Good Night, and Good Luck).

Update: See Editor Chris Carey's response to this post here.

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11 Thoughts after watching Soderbergh's film Bubble

  1. I'm not sure that releasing Bubble in the three major movie mediums (Television, DVD, and Theater Release) was incredibly advantageous, except for the fact that maybe it gave Soderbergh's film free press and opened a dialogue about releasing films differently.
  2. The film is highly enjoyable, it's pretty independent film feeling, it had the same feel to me in many ways as last years film Junebug.
  3. I enjoyed the movie, and at the same time couldn't help but wonder if only the most talented directors, like a Steven Soderbergh would be able to pull off a film like Bubble (a super-low-budget-film, shot in only 3 weeks, with a completly unknown and untrained cast).
  4. Props to Soderberg for his low-budget effort. It's like a well made youtube video, which somehow is attractive in a market of very large scale, large budget movies.
  5. I think it's kind of fun that the characters improvised many of their lines, and it makes you wonder if these people could ever act in other projects.
  6. The three leads did excellent jobs, especially Debbie Doebereiner, a retired KFC employee, who in this film plays an odd, lonely, doll factory employee. I'd like to see a director give her a shot at another film.
  7. I think it's kind of funny that director/producer Steven Soderberg also was the cinemotographer (under the name Peter Andrews) and editor (under the name Mary Ann Bernard).
  8. I'd like to see more big time directors attempt projects like this.
  9. I used to love when on Mr. Rogers that would show clips of how crayons, straws, and other random things were was very interesting to see how dolls were made.
  10. I think Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner are certainly influential people in the movie world as they try new projects like this out of their different companies, Magnolia Pictures, 2727 Entertainment, HDNet, and Landmark Theaters)
  11. In my mind, this film is the first successful film to mimic the production style of The Blair Witch Project , although the tone and style were very different.

Previous Bubble Post.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Heart of An Unfinished Life

An Unfinished Life(2005) directed by Lasse Hallstrom and staring Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez...

This film can sometimes be slow and over-acted, but the story is quite touching.

Few films deal with the power of forgiveness as directly as this one. This film reminds us that forgiveness is not just freedom for the person who did wrong, but for the person who forgives.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, and many film climax to a moment were a character says "I fogive you." But this film is far deeper in it investigation of when forgiveness is appropriate and the change forgiveness is to make in us, and the difficulty and worth of forgiveness.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Reactions to A Nude Daniel Radcliffe

In a past post I mentioned that 17 year-old Harry Potter film star Daniel Radcliffe would be performing next March in Equus.

As I understand it, Equus is a play about psychology in which a young boy who blinds six horses with a metal spike.

The posting of this promted a variety of comments, some of those in refrence to the nude scene that Daniel would exhibit in the play:

"Animal abuse, naked teenage boys,sexual ectstasy..... in a stage play? Bleah. I guess that's why my uncultured heathen self has always preferred sunny musicals at the theater" --elasticwaistbandlady

"Equus is one of the worst plays I have ever seen. The writing and plot is muddled in a psychologyly disturbed actions of a boy who pokes out the eyes of a horse with an ice pick. If you're going to be nude in a play, at least make it a good play." --kimberly ann

"I'm disappointed in Harry Potter." --Sheri Ann

"I have read that there are several different versions of the play Equus and that there are versions where the character does not do the scenes nude. I haven't heard which version he is doing, but hopefully he will choose to do it clothed. I would hope that he would consider his image and the children that look up to him. " --Allison

"I agree with Allison... hopefully he will choose the clothed version for image's sake. I was disturbed to read about this last week - so much for the innocence of little Harry Potter." -- Grete

"Equus is by no stretch of the imagination a perfect play, but its writer, Peter Shaffer (who also wrote Amadeus) was certainly doing some truly bright things in the film: like discuss how each of us are fallen and broken and want to be healed. The boy's relationship with the horse is shocking because he believes it is his relationship with God. I agree that Shaffer's choices with sexuality were designed more to arouse than to provoke to thought, but I wouldn't count this move by Radcliffe as another Blue Room. " --Will

One of the things that Grete and Allison mentioned was that they hoped Daniel Radcliffe would perform the sexual horse scene with clothes on...

Well how about this quote?

"All the other actors who have played the part have done that, so for me not to do it wouldn't really be playing the part. It would be a watered down version. It wouldn't be the same. I'll be incredibly nervous, but I think, 'It's in the script; it's got to be done'. I'm terrified, but excited." --Daniel Radcliffe, as reported in the Herald Sun and reported on

Thanks Allison for e-mailing me this information and keeping up with all things Harry Potter.

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John C. Reilly Choosing Comedy

In recent years, John C. Reilly seems like he has consistently landed supporting roles in some the biggest critical successes of the year.

In 2002 alone John C. Reilly was a cast member in 3 best picture nominees: Chicago, Gangs of New York, and the Hours.

John C. Reilly has also appeared in other critically received films: Magnolia, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, The Thin Red Line, Boogie Nights and A Prairie Home Companion.

Yet John C. Reilly's film angle seems to be taking a comedic turn, which personally, I think is okay, because I think he's much better as a comic character than a serious one.

His role in Chicago (for which he received an Oscar nomination) was serious but still somewhat comical. And a few projects later his role in A Prairie Home Companion was also comical as he cut-up along side Woody Harrelson.

But Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was one of the first times I've seen Reilly be a regular slap stick cut-up and along side Will Farrell and the rest of the cast he did a good job.

Columbia pictures who produced Talladega Nights must agree that John C. Reilly's a funny guy and have in the past month gotten Reilly to sign on for two projects:
  • Step Brothers will reunite the Talladega Nights trio of director/writer Adam McKay, Will Farrell and John C. Reilly.
  • Walk Hard will bring John C. Reilly together with writers Judd Apatow (40-year old virgin) and young director Jake Kasdan (Orange County) to tell a fictional story of Dewey Cox a legendary rock star. (via)
It's an interesting turn, and with these types of projects on his plate, you have to wonder if the serious actor academy awards nominated actor is done with more dramatic projects?

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Three: The Magic Number of Summer 2007

Summer of 2007 is brought to you by the number 3. Looking at the calender mny films next Summer will be offering up their 3rd Installment of their series or trilogiy.

Spider-Man 3 (May 4)
Shrek the Third (May 18)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (May 25)
Ocean's Thirteen (June 8)
The Bourne Ultimatum (August 3)
Rush Hour 3 (August 10)

I can't think of any other summer where 6 films were in their third installment in the same summer. And this isn't all we're talking about for sequels. Check out the other sequels, tetraquels and pentaquels.

The 2nd Installments:
Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer (June 15)
Evan Almighty (June 22) (a follow up project of Bruce Almighty)

The 4th Installment:
Live Free or Die Hard (June 29)

The 5th Installment:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (July 13)

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gilead: A Strongly Recommended Read

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (published in 2003) is a nonfiction account of personal thoughts primarily focused on God and Jesus. The subtitle for this book is "Non-religious thoughts on Christian Spirituality."

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (published in 1989) is a fictional book told in the first person voice of an English Butler in his final days of life reflecting on his and his fathers years of service to Lord Darlington. Ishiguro won the booker prize for this novel.


Gilead is a beautiful gem of the book. It's as two of my favorite contemporary books Blue Like Jazz and The Remains of the Day combine with it's own emergent properties to create this rich lush book called Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Gilead is told as a letter written by a old minister (who's father and grandfather were also ministers). The book is his letter to his young 6 year old son.

The book is highly reflective in a manner similar to the remains of the day. It is particularly similar because both Reverend John Ames (Gilead) and Stevens (Remains of the Day) both lived their lives in a way of service in a way that was a family tradition.

Yet, Gilead is also similar to Blue Like Jazz in a way that the character Reverend John Ames (Gilead) is unpacking his past experiences and thoughts as they relate to his understanding of God, just as Donald Miller does in Blue Like Jazz. Ames does not write his letter in a preachy way, but rather in a way that admits his own failings and his own lack of understanding, just as Miller does.

Gilead, the 2005 Pulitzer winning novel, is a beautiful gem of a book and one of the richest, most interesting, and touching books I have ever read. I highly recommend this book (as well as the other two books mentioned above).

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