Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Following Up on Lohan's Director Goal

I doesn't do any good to set goals if there's no follow up, right?

Last June Lindsay Lohan got frusterated with Bernie Goldmann and Melisa Wallack the directors of the movie Bill (now staring Jessica Alba in Lohan's place). Lohan then said she was only going to work with "big name directors from now on."

Back in June Lohan was to appear in Bill, Bobby, Chapter 27, a Woman of No Importance, Georgia Rule, and Speechless.

As a result of her unprofessional life, she is no longer appearing in Bill, A Woman of No Importance, or Speechless.

But let's look at the projects she has since picked up, it certainly doesn't look like she is quite following through with her goal to only work with "big name directors."
  • I Know who Killed Me - a thriller directed by Chris Sivertson, who unless he is known for co-directing his video All Cheerleaders Must Die, it would appear Lohan's choice here certainly is not in favor of a "big name" director

  • The Best Time of Our Lives - this film also staring Keira Knightley is directed by John Maybury whose most recent project was the film The Jacket. I certainly wouldn't consider Maybury a big name, but at least he he seems to have more experience.

The verdict would be that at this point it would appear that perhaps it's a little harder than Lohan thought to get acting gigs under "big name directors." Tought story, eh?

(The above picture is Lohan on the set of Chapter 27, the film staring Jared Leto as Mark David Chapman)

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Monday, February 26, 2007

8 Thoughts on the 79th Academy Award Show

1. Al Gore...your movie was boring, and you won because you're famous, your film (which you did not produce or direct) deals with a topic Hollywood is interested (thank you Leo for reinforcing that) and apparently the Academy either really like's Mac computers or they really like PowerPoint presentations. I was very sad as well when dreamgirls lost out to this boring film in the song catagory. A shame. In case anyone is confused, Gore did not win an academy award last night, he just talked a lot.

2. One of the best Academy Award shows in a long time. Good job Ellen. Producers good job for not showing too many montages. (By far the most unnecessary segment was the Michael Mann segment with the American Film clips). The rolling people puppets were kind of wierd, but I liked them, especially when they made the penguins. Also the sound effects orchestra was very impressive.

3. The Martin Scorsese moment was pretty memorable, classy speech and the standing ovation, of course was very moving. All the better because it was followed up with an eventual win by the Departed.

4. I correctly predicted 13 of the awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay included) but totally missed it on some of the other catagories. It's fun when it's not all etched in stone. (My wife had 11 right).

5. The Academy Awards are like my birthday I got so many great phone calls and voice messages from friends and family in honor of the day. Thanks to all who called, including those who simply wanted to tell me their favorite part of the presentation was when Will Farrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly sang their sad ballad.

6. Although some have claimed the academy awards are irrelevant, I feel like their selections were generally in line with the thoughts of main-line culture. The reason my wife was able to select 11 of the winners was largely due to the fact that she has seen most of the films and was selecting who she felt was most likely to win based on their performance (not by tracking their buzz and precursor awards).

7. Disney Pixar's Cars lost out to Happy Feet. You know Pixar is blaming pop culture trends, marketing, and release schedule. Expect the campaign for Brad Bird's Ratatoille to be bigger than ever. (Remember Brad Bird's film The Incredibles scored 4 noms and 2 wins).
8. Only Helen Mirren could give such a classy speech while holding one of her earrings in her hand.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

79th Academy Award Predictions

Just Hours away the winners will be announced for this year's academy awards and my wife and I have finalized our picks...

It's scary because my wife is getting better at knowing what's going on in Academy Award World and so her predicts are as equally as viable as mine and it would of course be very sad if she were to beat me on account of catagories like animated short and so forth. And it's a fun year because we both have selected different Best Pictures as well. Who know's we could both be wrong if Babel takes the prize.

Here are my picks.

Picture – The Departed
Director – Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Actor – Forrest Whitaker, Last King of Scotland
Actress – Helen Mirren, The Queen
Supporting Actor – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Supporting Actress – Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Original Screenplay - Babel
Adapted Screenplay – The Departed
Animated Film - Cars
Foreign Language Film – Pan’s Labyrinth
Documentary – Iraq in Fragments
Editing – Children of Men
Cinematography – Children of Men
Art Direction – Pan’s Labyrinth
Costume Design - Dreamgirls
Make-up – Pan’s Labyrinth
Sound Mixing - Dreamgirls
Sound Editing – Letters from Iwo Jima
Visual Effects – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Original Score – The Queen
Original Song – “Listen,” Dreamgirls
Animated Short Film – Little Match Girl
Live Action Short Film – Helmer & Son
Documentary Short – The Blood of Yingzhou District

I have Departed, Dreamgirls, and Pan's Labyrinth each winning 3 awards by nights end (the Queen with 2, Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, and Letters from Iwo Jima with 1)

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Wife's Thoughts On Our Recent Films We've Watched

Below are my wife's thoughts on the five most recent films we have viewed. I just figured people would enjoy her thoughts far more than mine.

The Science of Sleep
I didn't like it, because I thought it didn't really have a plot, nothing really happened in the movie and I was watching this goofy guy for however long the movie was.

Half Nelson
I thought it was a decent movie, it was slow moving but it eventually had a...not just a point to it, but a message and it had some character evolvement. I think Ryan Gosling did a good job, I believed the character he was playing. I recommend this to someone who enjoys a good story but can be patient for it to develop.

El Laberinto del Fauno
Oh, I really liked Pan's Labryinth, it was a little violent and had strong language, but I thought it was a really creative story, with really cool cinemotography, and the little girl whatever her name is, did a really good job, and the stories just really sad. My favorite part was when the girl ate off the table she wasn't supposed to, because at that point you knew what was going on in the girls life and then that wierd monster thing came after her.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
I felt like they took what was a pretty good story and made it a little boring in the way they presented it and the writers didn't evolve the character to make the viewer care about what was happening to her. I felt like the plot rose too quickly for the story to be as interesting as it could've been. It was alright. I really liked the scene were she drops the leaflets off the staircase.

Monster House
Oh, yea, I really liked that movie it was really cute kids movie. I liked the fat kid character, he was funny. I thought it was witty, because it was definitly for kids but still entertaining. The writers just really did a good job with that fat kid.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Golin Touch?

Steve Golin has received his first academy award nomination this year. Who is he?

Why he's the producer of Babel...a film that requires a great deal of disbelief but at the same time has garnered tremendous award attention, including the golden globe for best drama and 7 academy award nominations.

Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has been highly regarded for his previous projects, namely Amorres Perros and 21 Grams, but this film has given him more attention then ever.

Producter Steve Golin has been the man behind many innovative films including Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Shifting gears, could Golin help another international director and his unique film?

At last years academy awards ceremony Gavin Hood's film won the academy award for best foreign language film for Tsotsi (South Africa).

Hood (pictured right) is the director of a little film called Rendition set to be released in November 2007. This film has a very prestigious cast and could perhaps be the beginning of Golin films appearing as major critical award contenders.

The film which is filmed in Morroco (like Babel) in a mutli-layered story (like Babel) I can gather tells the story of a CIA agent in Egypt troubled by seeing a harsh interogation by Egyptian secret police.

The story sound semi-interesting but more interesting is the Academy award nominee/winner studed cast:

- Actor Reese Witherspoon (winner, Walk the Line)
- Actor Jake Gyllenhaal (nominee, Brokeback Mountain)
- Actor Meryl Streep (14 nominations including Devil Wears Prada, 2 wins)
- Actor Alan Arkin (3 nominations, including Little Miss Sunshine)

I'm definitly interested to learn more about this film as the year progresses.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Box-Office should not be Correlated with Nominations

Although I recently commented on the dark nature of 2006 cinema, I am very satisfied with the majority of the nominees selected for best picture.

In the past 48 hours my friend Anthony sent me this article from World Magazine and Adam sent me this Star-Telegram article.

Both articles complain that the academy has lost touch with popular culture and have ignored what is largely popular in the box office.

What do they expect? Anna Faris to get a supporting nod for Scary Movie 4, or more recognition for films like Talladega Nights? How in the world did Kate Beckinsale not get any award recognition for her role in Click?

If box office was in charge of choosing the best actor of the year we'd be seeing Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), Ben Stiller (Night at the Museum), Hugh Jackman (X-Men: The Last Stand, unless he was campaigned supporting), Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), and Tom Hanks (Da Vinci Code).

In this line of thinking Danielle Steele surely would have won the Pulitzer Prize for literature by now, and Mary Hart and Entertainment Tonight crew would have definitly won the Peabody Award for excellence in journalism many times over.

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hopelessness and death in 2006

In reflecting on the films of 2006 I think some really great films were made, and in fact the Academy has really captured some of my favorite films as award nominees this year.

Yet at the same time, it seems like every film that was made well was generally depressing. Sure there were films that mixed in a little comedy here and there, but most films seemed to be 97% depressing. Sometimes there'd be that glimpse of hope at the end of the film or the release of tension, but generally hollywood's finest work was depressing and stressful.

I mean, I can hardly think of a single movie this year where someone didn't die in it.

Even look at the best picture nominees.

In Babel the film delves into many seemingly hopeless situations...and yes, there is death.

The Departed's title alone refrences death and yes, definitly people dying in this movie, definitly hopeless situations for both lead characters.

Letters to Iwo Jima is about a difficult, long, deadly and hopeless battle told from the perspective of the losing side.

The Queen is about a hopeless situation where Queen Elizabeth can't do right in the eyes of her country after the death of Princess Diana.

And even in Little Miss Sunshine, the title aludes to happiness and yet even in this comedy every character is facing their own hopeless situation, whether it's getting their motivational book printed, or discovering you don't have the physique of a beauty queen, etc. and yes, even here this film has a meaningful death.

I challenge anyone to come up with a list of just five movies from 2006 that were quality films that didn't deal with hopelessness and/or death.

We certainly know that the following films are certainly not allowed on these list: United 93, World Trade Center, Blood Diamond, Catch A Fire, Flags of our Fathers, Pan's Labriynth, A Prairie Home Companion, etc. etc. etc.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Will Peter Morgan write another winner in 2007?

Peter Morgan probably won't win best screenplay at the Academy Awards on Sunday for his screenplay for The Queen, BUT his films have certainly garnered some critical attention this year.

Peter Morgan scripted two very different films this year, The Queen and The Last King of Scotland.

What's interesting to me is that this years two lead acting winners of this years film season are clearly Helen Mirren and Forrest Whitaker, both in films penned by Peter Morgan.

So, it seems worth while to pay attention not just to Peter Morgan's upcoming projects, but also the actors in these films who could garner attention.

In 2007 Peter Morgan's next script will hit the screen with his adaptation of Philippa Gregory's novel The Other Boleyn Girl. The Other Boleyn girl takes place in the 1500s with young Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johannson) being swept away as King Henry VIII's mistress. And although Mary is the mother of the King's daughter, outwardly Mary's coniving sister Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) steals all of Mary's potential glory.

I imagine than center stage actresses Portman and Johannson will be noticed for their work in this film, especially if 2007 is as weak for actresses as 2006 was, but I have to wonder if even more so Eric Bana will get a huge amount of buzz for his role as King Henry VIII.

Although Bana's roles recently have been in period/fantasy films (Troy, Munich, The Hulk), with the pen of Peter Morgan, you have to wonder if Bana might really be able to attract some attention.

Additionally, it's hard to tell who has the best chance of taking the most credit between Portman and Johannson. It seems to me that the Portman character is far more cunning and interesting. While both actresses have appeared in critical darlings in recent years, Portman's Oscar nod in 2005 for Closer gives her an early push, as well as an intense film schedule with a variety of projects at hand (Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, My Blueberry Nights, and the Darjeeling Limited).

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

I Was Wrong: Award Season and What I Said

This points to the bulk of my predictions and pre-award academy award nomination thoughts I've had over the past least the signifcant will find I was OFTEN very, very wrong.

March 27, 2006
Clooney, Soderbergh & The Good German
"I'll predict today March 27th that The Good German will get at least 6 academy award nominations."
Ummm...just original score!

April 17, 2006
Running With Scissors - The Story and The Movie
"I also could see it scoring some acting nominations and maybe a writing nomination, for Murphy."
Nope, nope, and nope. Not for Ryan Murphy not for Annette Benning.

April 29, 2006
"That's weird" or What I thought When I saw Lindsay Lohan in the A Prairie Home Companion Preview
"people ask, will this be Streep's 14th nomination, come on she got nominated for "Music of the Heart" how could she not get nominated for this??"
She didn't score for this role.

May 15, 2006
Cannes Film Festival Soon To Begin
"I wonder if Pedro Almodovar will garner as much recognition as he did for the bizarre coma-film Hable Con Ella with his new film Volver premiering at Cannes."
I would say yes.

May 31, 2006
Scorsese hasn't Departed DiCaprio
"Will Leonardo be getting his 3rd academy award nomination this year? It seems like Matt Damon has a better shot at getting his 2nd acting nomination. And you can never count out Jack Nicholson. And above all, Martin Scorsese will surely get some attention award season, although certainly it won't be with this project that he will win his first Oscar."
DiCaprio did get a nod, but not for this film, although he did get award buzz for this role. Matt Damon, no love...and yes Scorsese got love, and a win...who knows?

June 23, 2006
Will the Prestige by Magical?
"I really hope that this movie is able to be a player come award season"
Academy nominations for Art direction and cinemotography make it only semi-magical.

June 30, 2006
Oscar Best Picture Nomination Predictions
Flags of our Fathers, Dreamgirls, The Good Shephard, Little Children, The Good German...yea, that would be zero for five. But at that time other people were predicting Goya's Ghosts, and Letters from Iwo Jima was still called Red Sun, Black Sand.

July 13, 2006
Meryl's 14th nomination in 2006
"My guess is that Streep will score her 14th nomination this year for her work in a Prairie Home Companion."
Once again, you guessed wrong! The Devil Wears Prada was number 14.

July 28, 2006
Will Breaking & Entering Break-in?

August 19, 2006
The Blood Diamond: I am Hopeful
I picked out many of the past nominees involved with this project that went on to receive some of the 5 nominations Blood Diamond received. Including editor Steven Rosenblum, sound mixer Ivan Sharrock, and actors DiCaprio, and Hounsou.

August 31, 2006
Helen Mirren is The Queen (two in fact)
"I can't help but assume that Helen Mirren will get an academy award nomination for her performance in this modern-biopic."
Finally, a good assumption.

Sept. 4, 2006
The Good Will Showdown
I was hoping Matt Damon and Ben Affleck would go head-to-head in the supporting catagory, and neither of them got a nod...oh well.

Sept. 15, 2006
Mirren: An Oscar Nomination! An Oscar Win? Oscar win looks very likely, and no Winslett won't steal it away from her, nor will Beyonce.

Sept. 23, 2006
2006 Top 10 Best Picture Contenders
Still the zero for five in the top five. I was talking about many of the right films, but all in the wrong order.

Sept. 26, 2006
Why Dreamgirls?
I defended it's chances of getting a best pic nomination...and well, I was wrong.

September 29, 2006
Who Will Get Recognized in Flags of our Fathers?
No One! (except the sound guys)

October 2, 2006
Jack Nicholson
"It would seem likely that Nicholson might score his thirteenth nomination this year for his Boston-gang-leader role in Martin Scorcese's The Departed. "
Wrong...although many were surprised he was not.

October 3, 2006
Best Supporting Actor Predictions (for October)
Only 1 for 5, which was Djimon Hounsou...otherwise no Griffiths, Beach, Affleck, Nicholson.

Nov. 2nd, 2006
Academy Award Nomination for Ed Harris?
NO. Copying Beethoven made no such buzz.

November 9, 2006
A Scanner Darkly - Animation Buzz?
No nod for this R rated animated film. Sorry Linklater.

November 12, 2006
Ali G in the house that Oscar Built
"But I do forsee [Sacha Baron Cohen] having a great opportunity to receive a golden globe opportunity"
I predicted it'd be close, but no cigar for the Oscar nod, which was true...and he did turn up for Globe season. And he did receive a writing nod.

November 26, 2006
Letters from Iwo Jima: a 2006 contender
That would be a yes.

So yes, I don't know why you read this blog at all...who knows what wacky things I'll say this year.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Gay Actor Chad Allen's 2nd Appearance in Christian Film

Openly homosexual actor Chad Allen, stired up some controversy around this time last year in the Christian community for playing the part of Nate Saint, a Ecudorian missionary in the film The End of the Spear.

Newsweek recently published an article interviewing Chad Allen in regards to his most recent project that deals with Christian themes in a movie called "Save Me."

While some people were frusterated at the casting of Chad Allen in his End of the Spear role, Allen at the same time was have a very positive experience working with the Christian community. In the newsweek article he says:

When I went to make “End of the Spear,” I expected to meet a group of hateful, bigoted, at-best ignorant individuals, and I didn’t. I met a group of smart, God-loving, God-following individuals, who were doing what they thought was the most loving thing to do, when they suggested to me that God wanted me to be different. That really affected me. I went back to work on “Save Me,” and I remember sitting around with the rest of the producers and saying definitively,
“We have to make a movie that shows evangelical Christians as smart and loving. We just need to have a conversation about love."

Interestering, Allen had this loving experience, but I think most of that came from the film crew and the production staff, not the general Christian community at large. Interesting, Allen speaks in the article about how Evangelical Christians have been largely encouraging to Allen after seeing "Save Me" saying that they believe it is valuable in creating conversation.

The Premise of Save Me deals with a gay man (Chad Allen) who is also dealing with a drug addiction is forced into a Christian gay-rehabilitation home, "Genesis House."

The film premiered at Sundance, and at this point does not have a distributor. David Swanson at Christianity Today ranked this film as one of his top 4 films at Sundance.

(first noticed this film here)

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Faces Only a Mother Could Love

Just after Sacagawea got some good screentime in the movie Night at The Museum, the U.S. Government fails to take advantage of the opportunity to exploit pop culture in re-advertisting the $1 dollar coins that sit in reserve bearing her likeness. The US Mint has $180 million dollars worth of Sacagawea gold dollars just sitting there. Just think actress Mizuo Peck, the actress who palayed Sacagawea could get on the US Payroll and advertise for these coins all the time!

And at the same time they are beginning as of today the release of the 1st of what I presume to be 44 (45) different gold coins baring the images of America's presidents.

I imagine the release of these coins to be the same as the release of the US Quarters we have seen in the past few year (mentioned once here on Strange Culture).

The US Government of course wants these to be successful because they will last longer than paper dollars that get used and warn out quickly (the average $1 bill last 18 months). Also, they surely are hoping to bank money on novice coin collectors who will want to collect the entire set (everyone of these cost 20 cents or so to make, so someone who gets a coin that does not spend it is giving the US 80 cents profit on these coins).

So maybe Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea didn't offer the intrigue need to get people excited in carrying a round a pocket full of metal...but will John Adams and James Madison?

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Eight Random Thoughts

If I made a to-don't list, what would be on it?

Speaking of to-don'ts...after the largest study ever on napping it has been discovered that napping is good for the heart! Hooray for napping!

I wonder if Adam Jones is excited today, now that he has won the grammy for his art direction of the album packaging for Tool's latest cd 10,000 days? (Jones beat out the art direction of the recent cds by Fair, Johnny Cash, Ani DiFranco, and Thievery Corporation). His CD design is pictured left.

Speaking of awards, it appears Judi Dench will be skipping this years academy award ceremony to have knee surgery. If I were her, I might find knee surgery more fun than having to watch Helen Mirren accept another award, although they say her BAFTA speech was very touching.

I wonder if Ivana Baquero (the child actress-lead from Pan's Labyrinth) has nightmare's at night after performing in Pan's Labryinth. Forget M. Night Shymalan's Lady in the Water, Pan's Labyrinth is a truly scary fairy tale. Yikes!

Is the the picture of Eddie Murphy (right), the face of an academy award winner? Jon sent me an LA Times article earlier in the week about how Eddie Murphy's academy award winning chances may be hurt by the release schedule of Norbit. In my mind, this can only improve Alan Arkin's chances for a win.

I love when people link to me in their blog posts, thanks Swandive for the link today.

Maybe this is old news, but did you know that you could order flavored m&m's? Flavors include: Cherry, Mint, Cookies n' Cream, Orange, Raspberry, Almond, Nut, and Peach.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rich Tennant - A True Renaissance Man

How crazy is this...maybe other people know about Rich Tennant...but he's certainly my newest hero.

Cartoonist Rich Tenant, long time comic artists for Computer World got a unique gig in 1991, to provide the art work for the book DOS for Dummies...the first book in what has exploded as a popular franchise of books.

Now, that alone is only comic guy draws picture for user-friendly computer book.

But I was reading the newest issue of Fast Company and in a short article about an unofficial for dummies writer convention, that Rich Tennant was present.

In it, it said Tennant has drawn the artwork for the over 1000 For-Dummies books. In the article Tennant said: "One week I'm an expert on sewing, but by the next, I've forgotten it all so I can fill my head with chess gambits."

Who else could possibly be the official Renissance Man of our era...he has artistic ability, he's funny, plus he's now read all 1000+ for dummies books...including:

Coaching Hockey For Dummies
Postpartum Depression for Dummies
Mormonism for Dummies
Freemasons for Dummies
Writing Childrens Books for Dummies
Organic Chemistry for Dummies
Science Fair Projects for Dummies
Rekindling Romance for Dummies
Hedge Funds for Dummies
Formula One Racing for Dummies
Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies
Nostradamus for Dummies
Myspace for Dummies
Rome for Dummies
Jewish Cooking for Dummies
Koi for Dummies
RV Vacations for Dummies

All titles can be seen at but man, but if Rich Tennant learned one thing from each of these books, he's truly a well-rounded person.

Photo of Rich Tennant from Binder Photography.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Warwick as Flitwick, Wicket and Nikabrik

In addition to Peter Dinklage, the cast of Prince Caspian has acquired another little person, Warwick Davis.

Peter Dinklage may have been in the excellent film, The Station Agent, but man Warwick Davis has a resume that is far more vast and iconic, especially to loveres of fantasy films.

Warwick Davis has played the role of Wicket W. Warrick the world's cutest short hairy person in Star Wars Episode VI, and the Ewok adventure films (pictured right). Warwick reappeared in costume in Episode I as Wald (also right).

He's in Jim Henson's Labyrinth and in the Leprechaun franchise.

And of course, his most famous lead role is in the film Willow playing a little person with a big responsibility of saving a baby from an evil queen (pictured above).

And even recently he's appearing in the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (as Marvin) and Harry Potter Franchise as Professor Flitwick (pictured right).

It certainly is a good time in Hollywood to be a big named little person.

Now Warwick will join Dinklage in the Prince Caspian cast as Nikabrik the dwarf. And as Peter Chattaway points out this will be Warwick's 2nd time to appear in a Chronicles of Narnia series, as he appeared in the BBC TV version as Reepicheep.

What your favorite Warwick Davis role?

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Will Kate Ever Find Gold?

Kate Winslett is 31 and this year received her 5th academy award nomination.

And at 31, you've got to wonder if the joy of being nominated is wearing off, and whether at this point, she's ready to win.

Interestingly enough, despite the Susan Lucci-esque Academy situation, Winslett won a Grammy award in 2000 for best spoken word album for children...although surely this is not a presigeous awards. (Ugh, Grammys!)

Yet, what I think is real interesting is that I haven't heard of any upcoming projects for Winslett for 2007 or beyond.

Perhaps Winslett is being strategic, looking for the right project, instead of persuing something like 2006's All the King's Men, which was a complete bust.

My recomendation for Kate is, if Keira Knightley can play the role...don't take it.

If Kate wants to win an Oscar statue for her next role she will need to either...
a. Ugly it up a big time!
b. play a prostitute in an edgy supporting role.
c. Gain 50 pounds for the part
d. Sing a song in a film musical
e. Play the part of a famous person.

But my recommendation to Kate is to continue playing whatever part you choose, because whatever you're doing is working...five nomination by the age of 31 is a tremendous accomplishment.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Prince Caspian News

Last January I mentioned that Andrew Adamson would be following up the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with another book from the Narnia series, Prince Caspian.

There was a number of reasons this book was chosen as the follow up. First, because this book contains the Pevensie children (Lucy, Edmond, Susan & Peter) and so if the series was to have the same actors they needed to make the film versions with these actors as soon as possible.

Secondly, the Prince Caspian story is less controversial than the book "A Horse and his Boy" which traditionally follows the Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. No, it's not controversial for the same reason's of Equus, it is controversial because of the potential of being interpreted as an anti-Muslim film.

Andrew Adamson, director of the first Narnia film as well as the first two Shrek films, has recently begun releasing names of people who will join the cast.

The most important name for this second release is Ben Barnes (right), who has been announced as the new Prince Caspian. Barnes who is 25, will actually be playing the part of a 13 year old in this first film. Barnes, who has recently been "playing young" will be leaving his role as a character in the London stage version of The History Boys, he also appears in this years fantasy film Stardust.

Also of interest, Peter Dinklage (of one of my favorite films, The Station Agent, pictured left) has been cast in this film playing the role of Trumpkin the Dwarf.

Other cast announcemnets include Vincent Grass as doctor Cornelius and Spanish actress Alicia Borrachero as Prunaprismia, the wife of Narnia's evil king.

ALSO...Andrew Adamson appears will not be directing the entire franchise, as filming of the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will begin filming before Prince Caspian is in the can. (source)

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Letters from Iwo Jima Appreciation

First off, Letters From Iwo Jima is an excellent film. It absolutly deserves it's Academy Award nomination for best picture.

Now for the non-historicly minded individual, I would recommend a viewing of Flags of our Fathers before Letters from Iwo Jima (Flags of Our Fathers is out on DVD tomorrow).

Flags of our Fathers gives you the basic American understanding of the battle of Iwo Jima plus the pop-culture, and the power of war marketing and fund raising that went on domesticly in the US.

Yet, Letters from Iwo Jima really is the true gem. Just like I mentioned the other day about true stories, true stories are always complicated because there's not always clear good and evil. So it's unqiue to watch Letters from the prospective of the Japanese as the protagonist.

Secondly, How depressing is it that no one has seen this excellent film. This past weekend Letters from Iwo Jima came in #15 at the boxoffice, with the top films of the weekend being The Messengers, Because I Said So, and Epic Movie, all making more money in their opening weekend than Letters has made in its slow 7 week release.

This is not surprising since me and my wife saw this film at a very busy theater on a Saturday night, and although it was a later showing watched it with ourselves and 4 men who were all sitting there watching it by themselves.

Hollywood makes crummy films because that's what people go see. Clint Eastwood did an astounding job in this Japanese-language film about a historical US-Japanese WWII battle told from the Japanese perspective. Also Paul Haggis and Iris Yamashita did an excellent job writing and developing the story as well, and deserve a whole lot of recognition.

Previous Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima Posts:
Flags of Our Fathers (January 18, 2006)
Update: Dan Brown, Red Sun, Prince Caspian & Survivor (March 13, 2006)
Who Will Get Recognized in Flags of our Fathers? (September 29, 2006)
October 20th Face-Off: Prestige vs. FooF (October 18, 2006)
Post-Viewing Thoughts Flags of Our Fathers Recognition (October 28, 2006)
Letters from Iwo Jima: a 2006 contender (November 26, 2006)
Are We Just Ordinary People? (January 11, 2007)
Academy Award Nomination Knee Jerk Thoughts (January 23, 2007)

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Catch a Fire: Integrity? Justice? Peace? Terrorism?

(This post contains spoilers about the movie Catch a Fire)

Real life stories are tough to tell, because you can only take so much liberty in how the story plays out, and in a movie like Catch a Fire, you really see how complicated real life is.

The rhetoric of this film is a gray one. Normally if a film was about a human rights struggle the principal character would be noble and just, and their eventual victory would be highly worth celebrating. It's that emotion that made a film like Hotel Rwanda or Schindler's List so moving.

Yet Catch a Fire deals with the apartheid in Africa, through the real life story of Patrick Chamusso, excellently played by Derek Luke. Initially Chamusso gets wrongly accused of a terrorist activity. Yet the reason he's wrongly accused is partially linked to his calling in sick to work and sneaking off to visit a woman whom he had an affair and a child with. Chamusso does something morally wrong, and at the same time his punishment is incongrous with his crime.

Yet the terrible torture he under goes pushes him to care about the white/black struggle in South Africa, even though before he avoided the controversy and tried to remain under the radar. So now his 2nd wave of ill behavior is in alignment with his first punishment. Yet, this only distances him more from his wife and family, and really creates a dilemna for a modern western audience.

It is obvious that the apartheid is very evil, and as I really saw in the book Country of My Skull by Antjie Krog, you really see that the atrocities by the African National Congress, and the white minority were equally horrific, and it is no different in this film, although Phillip Noyce tries to tell the story as though the ANC (African National Congress) is completly honorable for fighting against injustice. Yet, a western audience has got to also question to appropriateness of the ACN planning massive small cell terrorist attacks, thinking of recent terrorist attacks in America, Europe, and the Middle East.

In this regard, I think Catch a Fire is excellent film for discussion. What does it say about integrity? Justice? Peace? Terrorism? And the follow question then, is do you agree with the message of Catch A Fire?

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