Friday, September 29, 2006

Who Will Get Recognized in Flags of our Fathers?

In the famous picture of the flag raising at Iwo Jima, six men are in the picture (although the famous shot makes it appear as though there are only 5).

It's got to make you a little curious approaching award season with a film this caliber which actors are going to be noticed and recognized in a cast heavy film like this one.

Here's a listing of the 6 men in the picture and the character who will be playing them.

John Bradley - Ryan Phillippe
Franklin Sousley - Joseph Cross
Harlon Block - Benjamin Walker
Ira Hayes - Adam Beach
Rene Gagnon - Jesse Bradford
Sgt. Mike Strank - Barry Pepper

In the billing listed on the poster Phillipe, Bradford, and Beach get listed. Also the book "Flags of Our Fathers" is written by James Bradley, son of John Bradley (played by Phillipe).

As the biggest name in the bunch, it's reasonable to assume Phillipe's presences, but with a crew of characters all playing young marine's men, I imagine that Adam Beach's character will stand out.

Ira Hayes (Beach) was a native American who was very shy and different from most of the other men in the marines. I imagine this will make for a quality presentation in the film.

Although Joseph Cross is not listed on the poster, I wouldn't be surprised if he is championed by at least a few critics come year end because he also plays the lead in the bizarre memoir-based film Running with Scissors.

I am surprised that Jesse Bradford's character got billed over Barry Pepper, but perhaps the script leads to Bradford having a larger role. Jesse Bradford plays Rene Gagnon was a French-Canadian mill worker from New Hampshire. He is the one you cannot see in the picture hardly at all.

And Benjamin Walker? Until this film, I'd never heard of him. He'll be playing Harlon Block a Seventh-Day Adventist from Texas. Perhaps his role in the story is small because he certainly has less acting credits to his name then any of the other 6 flag raisers.

Pictured Right are: Ryan Phillipe (John Bradley), Joseph Cross (Sousley), Adam Beach (Hayes), Jesse Bradford (Gagnon), and Barry Pepper (Strank). Benjamin Walker is not pictured because I could find no picture of him.

Other known-name actors who appear in the film are: Jamie Bell, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Walker, Ken Watanabe.

(Ken Watanabe is the lead in Letter to Iwo Jima, Clint Eastwood's companion project to this film)

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Robert Downey Jr. Becomes Super

1993 Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for an Academy Award for portraying Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. Now at 41-years old he's going comic playing Tony Stark, the lead in Jon Favreau's Iron Man. (via)

Now he joins the ranks of other actors to play Super Heroes on the big screen:

Batman/Bruce Wayne: Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Christian Bale
Superman/ Clark Kent: Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh
Hulk/Bruce Banner: Eric Bana
Spider-Man/ Peter Park: Tobey Maguire
Daredevil / Matt Murdock: Ben Affleck
Elektra Nachios: Jennifer Garner

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why Dreamgirls?

Will asked, why am I putting Dreamgirls in the number one stop in my recent best pic predictions.

Maybe a better question, is Why Not Dreamgirls?

Dreamgirl's is a Broadway musical, and obviously recent movie musicals are hit-or-miss with audiences and critics but this seems like it's on track for a hit.

Also, people like stories of triumph...unfortunatly the more artistic film artists are often involved in projects that can't deal with the triumph of the human spirit, except the genre of musical seems to open up a unique opportunity. What might be viewed as trite can be glamerous and artful when overdone in this style.

Also, talented cast and crew, some with nice award pedigrees.

Plus, Our society is enamored with the dream of accesible stardome: Ray, Walk The Line, American Idol.

Dreamgirls is the same but different.

Director/screenwriter Bill Condon did a great job writing the adaption to Chicago...I think he could do again, this time in the director's chair.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

2006 Top 10 Best Picture Contenders

Top 10 Best Picture Conteders
79th Academy Awards
(predicted September 23rd 2006)

1. Dreamgirls
2. Flags of Our Fathers
3. Bobby
4. The Last King of Scotland
5. Little Children
6. Babel
7. The Queen
8.The Good Shepherd
9. The Departed
10. The Good German

Potentially receiving nominations but not on the Best Picture Radar: Little Miss Sunshine, United 93, A Good Year, Hollywoodland (Affleck), Catch A Fire, The Blood Diamond, Infamous, A Prairie Home Companion, The Prestige, Volver.

*On June 30th, 2006 my top 5 was Flags of Our Fathers, Dreamgirls, The Good Shepherd, Little Children, and The Good German.

Bobby wasn't even on my radar then and it looks like it's shaping up to be a great ensemble drama. Emilio Estevez is surprising me. Once Oprah endorsed the Last King of Scotland, it became clear that this film was the powerful African film of the bunch. I don't really know why I'm holding on to Little Children, it just seems like the film that slips in, especially if the other films are so much "lighter."

It's really hard to tell where The Good German, The Departed, and The Good Shepherd fall in line...I feel like one could easily become a top 5.

The pictures are from Dreamgirls (obviously), Flags of Our Fathers, and the third picture is of Lawrence Fishburne and Freddy Rodriguez in Bobby.

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Good and Evil in Film: Pirates and Giant

Earlier, I did a post about Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest asking Are We Born Pirates or Do We Become Pirates?

MCF had some great thoughts point out that characters like Jack Sparron (Johnny Depp) "find a way be something better instead of being selfish," while Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) "finds something truly dark within herself and acts on it."

(Like MCF) Mercurie concludes with the thought: "I'm not sure that anyone is purely good or bad. We have the capacity for both in all of us."

Sheri Ann made some excellent comments where in summary she says: "Yes, i believe we are all born "pirates" if you want to say a pirate is someone who is inheriatly bad, but also capable of doing good. Every person on earth, no matter the status of their heart, is capable of doing a good deed. Many choose not too, but they can. "

I think a film like Pirates of the Carribean presents a very simplistic vision of Good and Evil suggesting that the good can fall and the evil can rise.

A Different Take: The Iron Giant

Brad Bird's "children's film" The Iron Giant presents a more complex view of Good and Evil in the story of the Iron Giant. (warning: Iron Giant spoilers will follow)

In the Iron Giant, the giant does some "bad things" like eating up cars, tractors and shutting down the power plant. His destructive "evil nature" is built around him acting on impulse and not knowing of any other way.

Yet, as Hoggarth helps The Iron Giant understand how to be good (aka be more like Superman and less like the destructive super villian), The Iron Giant learns, and although his nature based on his size and habits may at times be destructive, he has a deep seeded desire in him to be good, largely because of the affirmation he receives from his protector/savior Hoggarth.

Yet, as the situation becomes hostile and millitant around him, the choice to fight back or be peacable becomes very difficult and the Iron Giant, with the assistance of Hoggarth must make serious choices about which nature he will give into...the evil nature, that response in defense to to the violence around him with violence, or with the humility and self-sacrifice of a hero with the most honorable intentions.

I think The Iron Giant is a beautifully meaningful film, and I am impressed with the complicated perspective it gives into the ideas of good and evil as presented in cinema.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

George Barna's Revolution

I just finished the book Revolution by George Barna.

This book is written by George Barna a highly-acclaimed statistician who has done extensive research and written dozens of book primarily dealing with trends within the realm of Christianity and the Church.

In his latest book Barna addresses what he see's as the religious transformation he see's in Christians over the next couple of decades.

The positive trend he notices is that more Christians will try to live God centered lives that actively try to place God at the center of all that they do 24/7. Obviously, church leaders would not complain about the concept of Christians who are actively seeking out God, BUT Barna thinks that a revolution is occurring where Christians will do this in ways that will minimize the role and importance of the modern day Church.

Barna is very positive about the decreased stature of the church (little "c" church), not because he thinks the church is bad, but because these "Revolutionaries" will find ways to be about the larger kingdom of God (the Church) in ways that stretch beyond the four walls of the local church.

Barna says "Revolutionaries" are passionate about intimate worship, faith-based conversations, intentional spiritual growth, servanthood, resource investment, spiritual friendships, and family faith.

Barna realizes while church can often aid in the venture of these passions, many other opportunities are available for nurturing these passions and a "Kingdom of God" oriented life.

What Barna recognizes is valuable and real, I can see it in the various faith communities that I have the opportunity to engage in and come in contact with. I think that in a ever growing marketplace of ideas and opportunities our time is too valuable to misallocate our valuable resources, like time.

I value the fact that my church intentionally strives not to be "program driven." It is not that my current church views programs as bad, but rather that our lives are already very busy, and we don't need "church" busying up our lives. Now, instead, if we are to live lives that are honoring to God, instead we must allow the God (in his crazy God ways) to come-in to all other aspects of our lives.

It is very personal faith to live that longer can we blame our church for our own spiritual failings or unconnectivity, we instead have the opportunity to take responsibility for our own faith in every aspect of our lives.

Barna presents a unique vision and picture for what he see's happening in contemporary Christianity. I think many Christians and church leaders would be disheartened by Barna's message because they might see it as heretical to take "church-as-we-know-it" out of the equation, but while at times I have doubts about the perspective on church Barna presents, I also value the active spiritual life that he portrays.

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Who's that on the Cover of Time?

When I saw the September 25th, 2006 issue of Time Magizine, I was sure the cover story was:
"What War With Iran Would Look Like (If Steve Carell was the President of Iran)"
But alas, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a strangely similar look as Steve Carell's character in Little Miss Sunshine, but he is not Steve Carell.

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An Amusement Park for the Brave/Stupid

Afraid of crowds, afraid of people who look or act differently than you, afraid of traveling, afraid of little people, afraid of people charged of child molestation?

Well that Michael Jackson's dream theme park just isn't for you.

According to MSNBC's Jeannette Walls, Jackson has been hiding out in Ireland and is thinking of fulfilling his life dream of opening up his own theme park...a leprechaun themed amusement park in Ireland.

Apparently the park would cost about $635 million dollars to open, and I doubt George Lucas or anyone else is going to be offering to help Jackson out with this disturbing wacko project.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lucky University

Goerge Lucas graduated from the University of Southern California in 1966. And now, 40 years later decided to make the school really glad they accepted him by donating $175 million dollars to the school.

This gift from the Lucasfilm Foundation is the largest gift USC has ever received from a single contributor.

$75 million dollars will go to construction of a 137,000-square foot film school, the other $100 million will go to the Universities endowment.

This gift came hours after it was announced that Lucas would be the grand marshall of next years Rose Parade...despite all of George Lucas' achievements, maybe he's just always wanted to be in a parade, and now his dream has come true?


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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Let Abigail Breslin Walk

Joaquin Phoenix was holding and coddling neurotic water drinking Abigail Breslin (as Bo Hess) in Signs...

Kate Hudson was discovering the joys of being a young guardian of Abigail in Raising Helen...

And then in Little Miss Sunshine Abigail got the opportunity to shine, walking on her own two legs the whole movie in Little Miss Sunshine.

Little Miss Sunshine co-star Paul Dano has some impressive films coming up in the next couple years, but poor Abigail has some weaker projects on tap.

Poor Abigail plays the voice of a puppy in Airbuddies, goofy sounding feel good movie called The Ultimate Gift, and a Raising Helen-esque film by director Scott Hick's film called No Reservations about a chef (Catherine Zeta-Jones) whose life changes when she become guardian of her niece (Abigail Breslin).

I'm impressed with Breslin's skills, how about we let her do some of those crazy roles that Dakota Fanning's been getting so she can give that she can give Fanning a run for her money.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Paul Dano Does Not Work At Walmart

Yesterday, my wife and I went to the Walmart Neighborhood Market near our house. We had just seen Little Miss Sunshine and Kim kept on saying, "I just saw the guy from Little Miss Sunshine, you know the kid Dwayne, he's here at Walmart."

Of course, I tell her she's ridiculous, but indulge her to wander along the back of the store, looking down every aisle, then through the produce, and along the front of the store, where she thinks the actor (Paul Dano) has gone into the Walmart banking area.

I stay in the deodorant aisle while she sneaks around the corner to see if she see's the guy again, but alas, it's not the guy she saw earlier.

So after we finish our shopping, she's see the potential-celebrity, but he's standing behind the photo counter wearing a walmart name badge. And well, from my perspective, he just looked like a pale skinny twenty-year-old with dyed black hair.

My only comment: "You know the guy in Little Miss Sunshine, might not have dyed black hair in real life?"

And in fact, you see in the picture, right, of the then 22-year-old Paul Dano at the Little Miss Sunshine premier at Sundance and he's not in costume of his character Dwayne Hoover at all.

And in fact, with all the cool projects Paul Dano has in store for him, I imagine he's not processing film at Walmart.

Cool Upcoming Projects for Paul Dano:
  • PT Anderson's Upton Sinclair adaptation, There Will Be Blood where Dano play Eli Sunday a young Texas preacher opposite Daniel Day-Lewis.
  • Spike Jonez's Maurice Sendak's adaptation, Where The Wild Things Are, where Dano will play the voice of Alexander.
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Toronto Film Festival: Winners & Buzz

This Mexican director (pictured left) is the director of this year's winning film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

This unknown Mexican director is Alejandro Monteverde. His film, Bella, won the People's Choice Award. Bella tells the story of two people whose lives converge and turn upside down on a single day in New York. (via)

Winning this award is a significant accomplishment, former winners over the past 10 years include Shine, Life is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Whale Rider, American Beauty, Tsotsi, Hotel Rwanda, and Amelie.

The critics prize went to a highly controversial film called Death of a President, which is a fictional documentary about the assassination of President George W. Bush in 2007 after his 'war on terror' further polarised America. (via)

I would guess some would be surprised by the winners of this year's Toronto International Film Festival, given some of the largley buzzed about titles that are showing this year.

Leah Rozen of People Magazine says that many of the performances at Toronto this year generated a lot of Oscar buzz.

Lead Actress Buzz from TIFF

Lead Actor Buzz from TIFF
  • Derek Luke, Catch A Fire
  • Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
  • Sean Penn, All The Kings Men
  • Peter O'Toole, Venus
  • Toby Young, Infamous
  • Sacha Baron Cohen (HBO's Ali G), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Supporting Actress Buzz from TIFF

Supporting Actor Buzz from TIFF
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Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Rite of Spring

Last night, my wife and I had the chance to hear the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra perform my favorite symphonic piece of all time, The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du printemps) by Igor Stravinsky.

There is no single composer I enjoy more that Stravinsky. I love the The Fire Bird, Petruska, the Ebony Concerto, and The Rite of Spring, especially.

I don't have a favorite book, a favorite movie, a favorite band, but I do have a favorite symphonic piece and this is it.

The Rite of Spring is a piece that tells a story, and the story is of Pegan Russia, where in order for spring to a rise a young female must be chosen before the sage and dance to death.

The Rite of Spring premiered in 1913 in Paris as a ballet, and apparently it was hated by most who attended. I think more than anything, they were probably surprised because within the next couple years, this bizarrly dissounant and often times very harsh and primitive sounding.

And yet, really the peice is full of paradox. The story the music tells is sad, and happy. It is the story of sacrifice for a greater good. So there is joy and sadness. Which makes it tell such an emotional story. How greatly are we touched by the sacrifice of others, even at their own personal loss? Is this not why we are touched by movies like Schindler's List and the Passion of the Christ?

In this mood, the music is incredibly dynamic, it's loud and soft, it's surprising and subtle. It's dark and it is flowery. The music is textured in it's irregular times signitures, it's instrumental diversity (Contra bassoons, alto flutes, E flat clarinets, piccolo trumpets, 13 part string arrangements, etc).

Have long wanted to hear this piece performed live in it's entirety and last night, I had the opportunity at Bass Performance Hall. I wonder if some of the audience felt like 1913 Paris crowd and wondered where they were, or what spectacle they were hearing? Yet, to me, I have listened to this piece countless times and felt honored to hear it masterfully performed.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Mirren: An Oscar Nomination! An Oscar Win?

The list of potential Best Actress nominees for the 79th annual academy awards held early 2007 is growing and shaping up.

This Years Most Buzzed About Best Actress Contenders:
Kate Winslet (Little Children)
Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal or The Good German)
Annette Benning (Running With Scissors)
Nicole Kidman (Fur)
Renee Zellweger (Miss Potter)
Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)
Beyonce Knowles (Dreamgirls)
Penelope Cruz (Volver)
Ashley Judd (Bug)
Dakota Fanning (Hounddog)
Sienna Miller (Factory Girl)
Kristin Dunst (Marie Antoinette)

The Only Guarentee

There's some competition and it's hard to tell what films will bust, but...with all the buzz and her win at The Venice Film Festival, it seems clear that Helen Mirren is bound to get an academy award nomination for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in the The Queen.

Is Mirren to Old to Win the Oscar?
Yet...can she win? The recent best actress winners have all been very young...

Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line), Hillary Swank (Million Dollar Baby & Boys Don't Cry), Charlize Theron (Monster), Nicole Kidman (The Hours), Halle Berry (Monster's Ball), Julia Roberts (Erin Brokovich), Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love)...

while Helen Mirren turned 61 this year...sure, that's not too old, but if she won, she would round out the bottom five oldest woman ever to win the best actress statuette...

Jessica Tandy was 80 when she won for Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Katherine Hepburn was 74 when she won for On Golden Pond (1981), and Marie Dressler was 63 when she won for Min and Bill (1930), Katherine Hepburn (like Helen Mirren) was 61 when she won for the Lion in Winter. (via)

I want to think that perhaps there just hasn't been great lead roles for older females, and that the road is paved for a Helen Mirren win, but somehow I'm afraid that Beyonce or Kate Winslet could slide in a steal Helen Mirren's opportunity for this honor.

Pictured above are Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Halle Berry when they won their best actress Oscars.

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Episode 1 of Survivor: Apartheid Island

Pictured right is the African-American tribe on Survivor: Cook Islands (Season 13).

Last night the African-American tribe (Manihiki) were sent to tribal council and forced to get rid of one of their players.

In one of the most controversial reality TV situations, producer Mark Burnett has created Television/Pop Culture buzz by dividing the teams by race.

It was interesting to see what tribes made race an issue, and which did not...the African-American tribe particularly felt like they needed to "represent," and of course where very disappointed when they had to loose one of their members (Sekou, the older man in the middle of the picture).

Will this show be helpful or harmful in the race dialogue? Who knows?

It's hard to tell...the one thing that keeps coming to my mind though is the jokes that a few my friends frequently make about "The Black Family" from the Amazing Race: Family Edition. Frequently they would flash up on the screen "The Black Family," which consisted of Reggie and Kimberly Black and their two children Kenneth and Austin.

It seems to me at this point, the Asians and Hispanics have a slight upperhand, even in the challenge they were more unified and with it. The "White Tribe" they're all a big group of goofs (probably cast in such a way so that white's would not dominate and reflect poorly on racial diversity of this project).

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Who's in Horton Hears a Who

Fox's Blue Sky animation studio have announced that they will be making a CGI-animated film version of Dr. Suess' classic story Horton Hears a Who! (Currently scheduled to be released March of 2008).

Remember the Story?
Horton Hears a Who! is the story of an Elephant (Horton) who with his impecable hearing, hears the pleas for protection from teeny-tiny people (the Whos) who live in a world of their own on a floating piece of dust. Horton risks his own life on countless occasion to save the Whos.
Interesting to me because: Many feel this book's original intention was to make an anti-atomic bomb statement. It's a story about self-sacrifice and being accepting of all people, "A Person's a Person no Matter How Small." It is not surprising in our current war enviornment that this would be a message that film makers might consider representing in a new medium.

Jim Carrey
Fox announced that Jim Carrey has been cast as the voice talent for Horton.
Interesting to me because:Jim Carrey's already played an iconic Dr. Suess character. Carrey, of course, was the grinch in Ron Howard's adaptation of Dr. Suess' famous story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Steve Carell
The other announced cast member is Steve Carell who will provide the voice talent for the mayor of Whoville.
Interesting to me because: Steve Carell performed as the news anchor with speaking problems in Bruce Almighty, and will headlining in the upcoming Noah-esque sequel Evan Almighty. Also, Carell did lead voice talent as Hammy in Dreamwork's Over the Hedge this year.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thoughts after participating in the 2996 project

Doing the 2996 project the other day was an interesting experience. It was interesting to write a tribute to Peter Rodney Kellerman, because although I didn't know him it was interesting to think about who this random stranger was.

Peter worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, in investment bank that held offices on the 101th-105th floors of World Trade Center building one.

Cantor Fitzgerald lost 658 employees and it was wierd to look at other tributes and run into the names of others who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald.

I am very thankful for the 2996 project, where bloggers individually took the names of different 9/11 victims and created some sort of tribute for them.

I think the impulse for us on the anniversary of September 11th, is to think about where we (individually) were on the day of the attacks. Understandably so, it was a very traumatic and unfortunate event.

Yet, this project helped refocus our sites on ourselves, and made others think about the experience of 2996 people who died on September 11th. We think about their lost life and their families, and suddenly mode from thinking about ourselves.

It reminds me of the movie A Civil Action, where John Travolta's character, a successful lawyer looses everything in the legal fight for a group of families who's children had died. Initially Travolta's character is self-centered, even in his decision to take the case, but by the end the case and trial become a statement of self-sacrifice and I changed heart as he gives up everything for something greater and beyond himself.

I think in our current society, we learn more and gain more when we, in humility, find ourselves in the place of self-sacrifice. There is something paradoxicly redemptive and valuable about giving ourselves to others. I think Jesus understood that we he died for the sins of others, in his humility and self-sacrifice he receives glory and honor. And then Jesus request the same thing of, that we too would lose our life to find it.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

A Tribute to the Life of 9-11 victim Peter Rodney Kellerman

(This is post is a part of the 2996 project, where bloggers are taking the opportunity to honor individually the 2996 victim's of September 11th tragedy 5 years ago)

After your teen years, people stop throwing you birthday parties, except on those milestone years, like turning 40, 50, and so forth.

As soon as you reach 40, people start throwing you parties where you have cakes with black frosting, and people give you gag-gifts like silly canes and other horribly ridiculous gifts. "Your over the hill" they say, as if you've peaked and your life is over from this point forward, and it certainly isn't getting any better.

In recent films like American Beauty, The Incredibles and Sideways characters are shown struggling through their middle life crisis. Yet, probably my favorite Mid-life Crisis character is Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) and his friends in the film City Slickers. There's something both sad and comical in the character struggling through their mid-life crisis.

September 11th victim Peter Rodney Kellerman would have turned 40 this year. On September 11, 2001, Peter Rodney Kellerman was the vice president and equities trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. Kellerman had a doctor's appointment on the morning of September 11th and yet it had to be rescheduled and he went to work.

I'm sure Peter, a successful Jewish man from New York had a lot of friends, and had he not been in the World Trade Center 5 years ago, I am sure his wife Robi, and their friends would have had an excellent 40th birthday party.

Perhaps a long time coworker would have given him an over the hill gift bag with anti-aging lotion, a goofy hat with rear view mirrors, and a fill in the blank senior citizens card. Other friends give him cards about being an old fart or about not remember what happened five minutes ago.

I wonder if Peter Rodney Kellerman could gather his friends and family together what he would want to tell them. It's hard to know what he'd say, but I imagine he would say something like this:

"Everyday is a gift, filled with treasures for the taking.

We have so many opportunities to love others and be loved.

And yet, we never know which day will be our last, so we need to take advantage of the time we have.

Now that doesn't mean filling our life with the excesses of wealth and worldly pleasure. It's about loving those that are around us, letting them no that we appreciate them, and giving our all to show we care.

We're never to old to love others, care for others, serve others."

Today, I take some special time to pray for the friends and family of Peter Rodney Kellerman today as they reflect on the anniversary of his death. I grieve with you on a life that was not "over the hill" but a full life, may his life be a testimony to how fortunate we are to have another day that was not promised to us.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

2006 Venice Film Festival Winners Announced

Venice Film Festival wrapped up today and the winner of the Golden Lion was the Chinese film "Sanxia Haoren" (Still Life), a late entry in the festival directed by Jia Zhangke. The film is set in modern day China with the three gorges dam project as the backdrop for the story.

The best actor winner was Ben Affleck for Hollywoodland, which is very surprising to me. I've mentioned a few times this past week about his potential nomination for best supporting actor, but a win at Venice is very surprising. (Last year's winner was David Strathairn in Good Night, and Good Luck).

The winner for Best Actress was less surprising, Helen Mirren has taken the prize for her portrayl of Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears' The Queen.

The Queen's screenwriter Peter Morgan was honored and won the prize for best screenplay.

Helen Mirren was a contender in this years award season all along, and it appears that The Queen is not just a Helen Mirren awards vehicle but could stand it's own as well as a powerful film.

Although Emilio Estevez's Bobby and Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men did not win any awards, it was well received...unlike Darren Aronofsky's film the Fountain.

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Hollywoodland: the Good, the Bad, & the Indifferent

Good: Hollywoodland is an excellent modern film-noir...the dirty underbelly of America is certainly exposed. I believe Billy Wilder would've been proud.

Bad: Adrian Brody kept on reminding me of Sean Penn (maybe it's because his hair is just like Sean Penn's in the preview for All The King's Men)

Indifferent: The film is not very emotional, but I think that comes with the film-noir territory.

Good: The story is told in a unique way, but not overly sensational.

Bad: I did look at my watch twice and was slightly confused a few times.

Indifferent: What can you expect from a person (Paul Bernbaum) who's writing credits include writing for the television series "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures".

Good: Ben did a pretty good job, but I don't know if it's enough for an academy award nomination or to salvage his deminishing career. But who knows, by the end of the year, this might pick up the right type of Oscar buzz?

Bad: I definitly had no desire to see Ben Affleck's butt.

Indifferent: Ben's portrayl is somewhat flat, but it also seems to fit the part.

Good: Robin Tunney (pictured right) and Diane Lane by far have the standout roles in this film. I couldn't figure out why Robin Tunney was familiar, but she's the main hospital person in the pilot to House MD. (Yikes, My 2nd House reference in a week)

Bad: Some of the characters in the film seemed to have "interesting potential" and yet were never developed and carried out.

Indifferent: Unsolved mysteries make for interesting movies, for the most part the ending is tasteful but may be unsatisfying for many.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Mary: Perhaps the role Castle-Hughes was Made For

Watching Whale Rider the again recently, it made me very excited about seeing Keisha Castle-Hughes in the movie The Nativity Story due out in December.

Whale Rider, is such a beautifully unique story. Although sometimes Whale Rider doesn't know what type of film it wants to be, jumping in episodic ways from relational drama to family comedy to mythological saga.

Yet through out all of these different tones, Keisha Castle-Hughes is capable of hitting the mark as the uniquely complicated, but often simple, character Paikea.

It is my hope in Catherine Hardwicke's film, that Castle-Hughes will perform the role of Mary (mother of Jesus) which as much complicated simplicity.

In fact, I think there are many similarities between the roles. The character of Paikea and Mary both have a simple-complex story. They are females called in unorthodox ways to help play a vital role in the salvation (symbolic and spiritually) of their people. There service is not out of selfish ambition but out of humility and honor to something beyond themselves, and a deeper calling.

For more on the The Nativity Story click read my past post here or visit Queen Spoo's Nativity Story Blog.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Toronto International Film Festival Kicks off Today

The following films are the films that are the "Special Presentations" shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. Film showing already mentioned on Strange Culture include Catch a Fire, The Fountain, The Last King of Scotland, & Little Children.

10 Items or Less (Brad Silberling)
Alatriste Agustín (Díaz Yanes)
Art Installation: It Will All End In Tears (Jesper Just)
Begone Dull Care (Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart)
Blinkity Blank (Norman McLaren)
Brand Upon the Brain! (Guy Maddin)
The Bubble (Eytan Fox)
El Cantante (Leon Ichaso)
Catch a Fire (Phillip Noyce)
A Chairy Tale (Norman McLaren, Claude Jutra)
Congorama (Philippe Falardeau)
Un Crime (Manuel Pradal)
The Dog Problem (Scott Caan)
Exiled (Johnnie To)
The Fall (Tarsem)
Fay Grim (Hal Hartley)
The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky)
Golden Door (Emanuele Crialese)
HANA (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Hen Hop (Norman McLaren)
L' Homme de sa vie (Zabou Breitman)
Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence)
Kabul Express (Kabir Khan)
The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald)
The Last Kiss (Tony Goldwyn)
Lines-Horizontal (Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart)
Little Children (Todd Field)
The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
Love and Other Disasters (Alek Keshishian)
The Magic Flute (Kenneth Branagh)
Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal)
Le Merle (Norman McLaren)
Mon Colonel (Laurent Herbiet)
The Namesake (Mira Nair)
Neighbours (Norman McLaren)
Nue Propriété (Joachim Lafosse)
Opening Speech (Norman McLaren)
Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
Paris, je t'aime (Bruno Podalydès, Gurinder Chadha, Gus Van Sant, Joel and Ethan Coen, Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas, Christopher Doyle, Isabel Coixet, Nobuhiro Suwa, Sylvain Chomet, Alfonso Cuarón, Olivier Assayas, Oliver Schmitz, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Wes Craven, Tom Tykwer, Frédéric Auburtin, Gérard Depardieu, Alexander Payne)
Pas de deux (Norman McLaren)
The Pleasure of Your Company (Michael Ian Black)
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Ann Hui)
Quelques jours en Septembre (Santiago Amigorena)
Seraphim Falls (David Von Ancken)
Snow Cake (Marc Evans)
Stars and Stripes (Norman McLaren)
Stranger than Fiction (Marc Forster)
Synchromy (Norman McLaren)
This is England (Shane Meadows)
Venus (Roger Michell)
Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights-Hollywood to the Heartland (Ari Sandel)
Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo)

Full film listings can be found here.

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New Theory on Suri Cruise's Daddy

Of course you probably are aware by now that Suri Cruise has been revealed to the public on the CBS evening news and in Vanity Fair.

I've very much in enjoyed Grete's coverage of the Tomkitten story. In two of her most recent post.

In one post she jokes about the idea of Suri Cruise really having stark red hair that has been dyed for the purpose of these recent photos.

In another post she attempts some math to see if it's at all possible that former boy-friend Chris Klein could be Suri's daddy. But I have another theory...

To me Suri Cruise's asian look resembles Ken Watanabe more than Chris Klein or Tom Cruise. Plus, it would describe the naturally jet black hair dye needed here.

Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe are associated with eachother because of their performance together in The Last Samurai.

Now, this film came out late December, so even if Katie and Ken hooked up at some Hollywood premier the time line doesn't work out...but that doesn't mean they didn't have a "meaningful encounter" at some point or another.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Quarter Talk

I was very excited to see a Colorado quarter yesterday for the first my home state (where I was born and grew up) I wanted it to be a "cool state quarter."

Colorado met my expectations, nothing extravagant, but simple elegance.

And definitely much better than Alabama's quarter. I think Helen Keller was an amazing woman of triumph, but come the best thing about Alabama that a blind/deaf/mute woman was able to overcome adversity??

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Fountain Cracks (and sex is "Mostly Make-Believe")

Darren Aronofsky's latest film, The Fountain, staring Rachel Weisz (Arfronsky's wife) and Hugh Jackman premiered the otherday at the Venice Film Festival. There the film was booed.

This 1,000 year love story sounds like a really complicated version of the Lake House (a movie I've avoided). But apparently fans got lost in the in the time travel and story, even at Venice.

Also for bizareness read this:
Aronofsky joked about directing his own fiance in a bathroom sex scene with Jackman. "I'm a pervert so I had no issue with it," he said. "I enjoy shooting sex scenes very much. She's an actress, he's an actor. It's mostly make-believe, and when you shout cut it's over."(via)

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Monday, September 04, 2006

The Good Will Showdown

Hollywood surely loves the fun Academy Award situation, such as Hillary Swank and Annett Benning went head to head for best actress two years in a row.

And it's made me wonder if the entertainment industry will get a chance to make a press story of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck going head to head for Best Supporting Actor academy awards.

Affleck and Damon are both on the fringe of contenders for this years best supporting actor buzz...Matt Damon for his role in the Departed and Ben Affleck for his role in Hollywoodland.

Matt Damon also has a slight chance of being nominated for the Good Shephard as well, but that would likely be in the lead actor catagory.

It's hard to tell if Affleck and Damon would both have a chance of going head-to-head for a best supporting actor. Damon and Affleck are both considered Academy Award winners, but in the original screenplay catagory for Good Will Hunting.

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