Friday, February 29, 2008

Mike Tyson Says Jamie Foxx Is Gonna Play Him

Apparently Mike Tyson recently said at a youth correctional facility in North Las Vegas: "Me and Jamie Foxx are going to do a collaboration. He's going to play me in my life story. We've talked about it many times."

Now, the thought of a Mike Tyson big screen treatman is interesting in itself, BUT even more interesting with the thought of Foxx playing Tyson.

Granted, Foxx does do bio-pics and do them well, but I also remember reporting that Jamie Foxx was going to play Bob Marley, but then I had to report it as a false rumor (which was sad because I had made a cool graphic).

So while I'm curious in seeing if this Foxx as Tyson film plays out...but I'm going to certainly wait before I spend time in photoshop merging a Tyson and Foxx picture. Instead you get the unmerged pictures. Imagine them merged together, with Jamie Foxx in the front and the scene of Mike Tyson feathered in the background.

Don't forget, Foxx also has bio-pic about Nathaniel Ayers coming out later this year in the music and award baity film The Soloist.

Stay tuned for the rumor next month that Jamie Foxx will be playing Senator Barack Obama.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quality 80s? Part IV

In a search to find timeless, non-quirky 80s films (inspired by my viewing of The Accidental Tourist) I have begun my movie viewing. Here are some 1980s films I've just watched for the first time and my thoughts on whether they're any good 20-or-so years post-release.

Also check out: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

The Untouchables (1987)
Directed by Brian De Palma
Recommended by Oscar (1 win, Sean Connery, 3 add'l noms), Ando, Jandy, Fox, Adam

It's weird to watch Kevin Costner films and take Costner series. It's crazy to think what a big actor he used to be. Sean Connery of course, is amazing and the story is a lot of fun. You can see how a lot of movies since the Untouchables have taken it's cue from this film. There's some memorable lines and Robert De Niro is a great Al Capone.

There of course are those "big scenes" like the one where the gun fight is going on while the baby carriage is going down the stairs. It's cinematic, but watch the film 20 years later, it also comes off as a little over the top, especially the slow motion moments.


Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Directed by Woody Allen
Recommended by Oscar (3 wins with 7 noms), Jandy, Will, Jeremy

This film's screenplay is pure literature. It's exceptional.

I often have mixed feelings about Woody Allen films, and yet this one is absolutely great, and he really offers unique roles for the various women (Barbara Hershey, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Carrie Fisher). I thought the story line and the story telling where so inventive.

Aliens (1986)
Directed by James Cameron
Recommended by Oscar (2 wins with 7 noms), imdb (#4 80s film), Joe Valdez, Chris

This sequel had far less of the suspense element that Ridley Scott's initial film had, yet it moved with much more action. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is such an interesting film/sci-fi leading lady, and I am so glad she received an Oscar nod for this genre performance.

It's interesting that this is the only film credit for young girl "Newt" (Carrie Henn), she's fantastic in this film...her ability to be cute and scream horrifically reminds me of Dakota Fanning. I also had fun drawing comparison's to Aliens and Titanic (namely the running around between different rooms on a transportation vessel moving away from inescapable danger. Some make it, some don't).

Diablo Cody Goes To Hollywood

After writing blog posts during a year as a stripper in Minneapolis, writing a book about the experience, writing a exceptional smash-hit screenplay (Juno), and catching a lot of attention dressed up as the long lost sister of Barney Rubble, Diablo Cody has caught tons of attention.

Few writers have risen in star power so quick. While some may call her crazy, I'm starting to wonder if Diablo Cody is really a very very smart person who knows how to use the Hollywood machine to generate all the press she needs to be a hot commodity, and as a writer no doubt. In fact, she is using techniques that musicians and actors have used. Allowing the press to create all the buzz you need.

The question is whether or not Diablo Cody's screenwriting will continue to keep people interested.

Diablo Cody has to named upcoming projects a television series called The United States of Tara and a film called Jennifer's Body.

Of the two projects, one sounds great, the other sounds like a bust...but I've learned not to judge a project by it's title or it's premise.

But, of the two projects the most intriguing is The United States of Tara. The US of T is a Showtime TV series, created by Steven Spielburg with Dreamworks. The TV show is about a mom with split personalities trying to hold her family together. The premise, sounds a little like the Ali Larter storyline in Heroes, but what makes this even cooler is Toni Collette's playing the Split-Personality mom. Has there been better casting?

Yet, the movie Jennifer's Body sounds a little Scream/Faculty/I Know What you Did Last Summer-ish. Of course I could be wrong but the story is apparently about a cheerleader who starts killing her male classmates. The movie is directed by Karyn Kusama (Girl Fight) and stars Megan Fox (Transformers). This doesn't quiet sound like the next big hit, but who knows?

There's also supposed to be a script floating around called "Girly Style" that I believe has been picked up by Universal.

Who knows if Diablo Cody will stay in the game, and if the Diablo Cody franchise will former, similar to other fan-favorite screen writers like Charlie Kaufman or Tarantino.

And I'm still interested in Cody writing Juno 2, even if it's 20 years from now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Initial Thoughts on the 80th Annual Academy Awards & Telecast

1. For starters, with my predictions I got 13 out of 24 nominees correct. Certainly not excellent, that's the same number I got right as last year. I did get 6 of the big 8 (picture, director, actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, & original screenplay).


2. I thought Jon Stewart did an excellent job with the award show, being funny, adaptive, timely, and relavent. In 2006 I made a comment about how I didn't think he was that great, I think Stewart was exceptional this year. Favorite Jon moment was probably when he accepted the baby on behalf of Angelina Jolie who was unable to attend because she couldn't get a baby-sitter.

3. I was in the Julie Christie camp pre-award show, but am excited that Marion Cotillard won. She was beautiful in her mermaid dress (somehow she pulled it off, unlike Bjork and the Swan Dress). I hope her career continues to blossom. Her speech and attitude from red carpet to stage was classy and touching.

4. I probably should have chosen Cottilard to win, after all I've been posting all year about how "Real (Reel) People win Oscars." And this year Cottilard and Blanchett were the only leads performing in bio-pics, so what was I doing predicting Julie Christie to win?

5. Bourne Ultimatum wins each of the 3 Oscars it was nominated for...now that really threw off my predictions (I only had it down to win Editing). Pretty impressive feat since the first two films in the trilogy failed to even score a nod.

6. Who would have guessed Katherine Heigl would have been the most nervous person on stage? And she was just presenting the award for best makeup. Not only was her body and voice shaking, she apologizes to the audience for her nervousness and looked like she was about to cry.
7. I realize that Joel and Ethan Coen were co-nominated for 4 awards and have previously won an Oscar for their Fargo Screenplay...yet, I felt like their acceptance speechs were so lame and cocky, especially their writing award. Sure, they might have been confident about their opportunity to step up on stage again later in the evening, but at least take it seriously. Joel Coen did better during the award for best director with a fun anecdote, but come on act like you care.

8. Amy Adams did such an fantastic job singing "Happy Working Song" at the beginning of the telecast. No props, fancy sets, flashy costumes or lighting shows, just Amy singing the fun Alan Menken/Stephen Schwartz song with all of the energy and talent that made Enchanted an exceptional film. I think the Academy really missed the boat by not nominating Adams for best lead Actress for her role.

9. Speaking of best song, it was really great that Markéta Irglová was able to come back on stage to give her great little speech upon winning the award with Glen Hansard for best Original Song for "Falling Slowly" from Once.

10. The most akward moment of the award show was when Oscar winner Diablo Cody (Original Screenplay, Juno) in her very unique Award-show-get-up ended her speech saying "I want to thank my parents for loving me just the way I am." And then in an emotional huff walks away from the microphone. It was an oddly personal moment that you just weren't sure how to react too.

11. I thought it was pretty neat when the soldiers where helping announce the documentary short awards. Yet, there was a really weird moment when Tom Hanks was reading and briefly describing the documentary feature nominees. Once he finally mentioned the fifth nominee (War Dance) he made a comment about it being a movie about hope, and then he says, "finally hope." I agree that between 2006's hopeless films and 2007's violent films, he's right to be thankful for films about hope, but this was just a strong added little comment that surprised me.

12. It was interesting how many non-American winners there truly were this year. Marion Cotillard (French), Javier Bardem (Spanish), Tilda Swinton (English), Sweeney Todd Art Director (Italian), Dario Marianelli (Italian), Hansard (Irish) & Irglova (Czech), etc.

13. I know I'm interested in having the opportunity to see the Oscar winning documentary (Taxi to the Dark Side) and foreign language film (Austria's The Counterfitters) as soon as they are made available to me. It's always too bad when these nominated films, especially the foreign films, do not have wide screenings prior to the awards telecast.

14. The funniest presenters were certainly Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan as they tried to decide who was most like Halle Berry and who would be left pretending to be Dame Judi Dench.

If Box Office Strongly Correlated With Academy Award Nods

Last year I entertained the tought, "what if Academy Award nominees for best Actor strongly correlated with the domestic box office."

That led last year's best actor nominees based on box-office stats something like...

Johnny Depp (Pirates 2), 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).

2007's box office leads would place the following men in the top 5 best lead actors:

  • Tobey Maguire, Spider Man 3
  • Shia Lebouf, Transformers
  • Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean at World End
  • Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
  • Will Smith, I Am Legend

Interestingly enough Depp has scored a real nod, but for Sweeney Todd...but I imagine people will of course make complaints tonight during the Academy Awards and for all eternity that nominated actors aren't from "popular movies," or "real movies," or "movies that any one on the planet earth really cares about." And frankly that's crazy. This year had some excellent movies and some excellent stars.

I can understand, but do not endorse the complaint. This year's best Actor nominees do come from movies with weaker box offices, and the Women nominee's have even weaker box offices (but you can't blame the women...there simply were so few strong quality roles for women in 2007). The highest grossing movie that stars an academy nominated male is Sweeney Todd (currently at $52 million, the lowest Tommy Lee Jones' in the Valley of Elah with $6 million...Michael Clayton, Eastern Promises, and There Will Be Blood all fall between those two pics in box office grosses)

But the better question at hand is which of the following 5 top male movie leaders deserve credit for their acting and pushing these films to box office success? While Depp and Smith have received academy nods before will these other three guys ever receive Academy recognition, or will they only show the heat in the big box-office?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Keeping Journals???

In an effort to get ready for the previously-mentioned Baby...part of the day has been dedicated to going through the guest bedroom closet since the little girl due on June 24th will certainly need some space for her clothes, etc.

This process involved listing multiple items on ebay (2 items), amazon.com (3 items), and craig's list (4 items), and throwing away Boxes (multiple, multiple boxes of papers, old college stuff, very old financial information, and things belonging to the class of VHS tapes and breadmakeres).

One of the hardest things to contend with are the journals. When I was in college some diffrent people really encouraged the discipline of journaling. A discipling I tried to pick up again and again with different successful times, and other less successful times.

People always said I'd enjoy reflecting on who I was, what I learned, etc.

Despite the personal and day-to-day keepsake value of these journals, I really just want to throw them away...what value will they continue to have. I long thought someday I would be famous and they'd use these journal post-mortum to construct autobiogrophies and tv specials, but really again...are these so keepable.

They don't really take up space, but I just feel like there's no real value of keeping them.

In the flurry of listing and photographing items for online sale I've thought...I wonder if I could sell these journals online for some wierd voyeristic nature of people that are simply just endlessly courious.

Who know's...I think I will make a final conclusion soon on the issue of "too keep or not too keep" but I have a feeling they're trash bound. (Unless someone wants to make an offer.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

...And I predict the Award Goes to...

Certain awards seem like sure things at this point...Daniel Day-Lewis, Javier Bardem and the Coen Bros. all seem very likely to be adding an academy statuet (or in the case of Joel and Ethan Coen, as many as 4 statuettes) to their awards collections.

But some Oscar races, especially best lead and supporting actress, still leave room for surprises.

Here's my Academy Awards predictions...

Best Picture: No Country For Old Men
Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men (I'd love to see Schanebel win)
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away From Here
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno
Best Adapted Screenplay: P.T. Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille
Best Documentary Feature: No End in Sight
Best Foreign Language Film: The Counterfitters (Austria)
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, No Country For Old Men (as I predicted in July, otherwise I might've gone with Robert Elswit's work in There Will Be Blood)
Best Editing: Christopher Rouse, The Bourne Ultimatum
Art Direction: Atonement
Costume Design: Atonement (a.k.a. The Green Dress)
Makeup: La Vie En Rose
Original Song: "Falling Slowly," Once (Enchanted canceling itself out???)
Original Score: Dario Marianelli, Atonement (the type-writer! although Kite Runner or Ratatoille seem like better choices)
Visual Effects: Transformers
Sound Mixing: Transformers
Sound Editing: Transformers

and even though I don't care...
Best Animated Short: I Met The Walrus
Best Live Action Short: The Mozart of Pickpockets
Best Documentary Short: Sari's Mother

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Was Wrong: Pre-Award Season Mis-thoughts.

Prior to last years Academy Award show I tracked through my previous post and found around 20 "predictions" of sort that were in accurate. That post can be found here. This year I've tried to be more careful. And my the time September rolesd around my predictions and thoughts really did make sense.

Here's my biggest blunders from 2007's film season.

February 20, 2007
Will Peter Morgan write another winner in 2007?
"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."
This film being moved to a February 2008 release date, seems to suggest that Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johannson and Eric Bana are all excluded from any sort of winners circle in regards to this film.

February 23, 2007
The Golin Touch?
"Could [Steve] Golin help another international director [Gavin Hood] and his unique film [Rendition]?"
I also refered to Rendition in this post as "major critical award contenders." Having won no major awards, Rendition was not the film I had positioned it to be.

March 6, 2007 (and through out the year)
Real (Reel) People win Oscars
I loved writing the Real(Reel) People series, let me know if you would like to continue to see this series in 2008. But, this years awards have been highly literary, and many of these releases did not come out or barely made a splash. Of the 18 Real(Reel) Profiles I wrote, only Cate Blanchett and Marion Cotillard scored bio-pic nods this year in lead catagories.

March 22, 2007
Is a spot reserved for Reservation Road?
"Many of the front-runners people are already buzzing about seem logical, Sweeney Todd, Charlies Wilson's War, American Gangster, The Kite Runner, etc"
In the post I was right to be critical of the early buzz that Reservation Road was receiving, but look at the other films I picked as frontrunners. Yea, so maybe I should have been critical of the whole list.

April 28, 2007
Predicting the Best Supporting Actress Nominations in April
"Catherine Keener - Synecdoche, New York, Samantha Morton - The Golden Age, Mena Suvari - The Mysteries of Pittsburg, Meryl Streep - Lions for Lambs, Vanessa Redgrave - Atonement"
0 for 5

May 1, 2007
Vanessa Redgrave Nominated With a Co-Self?
Winslet and Stuart both got nominated for playing Rose (Titanic), Winslet and Dench both got nominated for playing Iris (Iris), but only one Briony (Atonement) got nominated and it was Saoirse Ronan.

June 28, 2007
Oscar Best Picture Predictions (June 2007)
"Best Picture Prediction: American Gangster, Atonement, The Kite Runner, Rendition, In The Valley of Elah."
1 for 5

July 13, 2007
Paul Haggis and In the Valley of Elah
"Paul Haggis' success hasn't seemed to stall out yet, which makes me think that his upcoming project In The Valley of Elah cannot be overlooked. Paul Haggis' involvement on the project made it an easy film for me to include in my best picture predictions I prepared a couple weeks ago."
Low box office, and only 1 surprise nomination certainly doesn't compare to the success of Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Casino Royale, or Letters From Iwo Jima.

July 27, 2007
Meryl Streep's 15th Nomination in 2007?
"Meryl Streep in Rendition or Meryl Streep in Lions for Lambs?"
Neither.

January 2, 2008
State of 2008's Original Song Nominations & My Predictions
"That's How You Know - Enchanted, Grace is Gone - Grace is Gone, Come So Far (Got So Far to Go) - Hairspray, Guaranteed - Into The Wild, Falling Slowly - Once"
2 for 5. Who would've guessed Enchanted would score 3 noms.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

An Amateur's Thoughts on La Vie en Rose

La Vie en Rose was, to me, like a car accident - chaotic and at times grotesque, but you just can't look away. Here are a few of my thoughts on the movie:

~Marion Cotillard definitely deserves her Oscar nod, as I found her believable playing all different ages as Edith Piaf. As Piaf was quite eccentric, this must have been a difficult role to play. She became Edith Piaf.

~The music in the film is fabulous. Even those who are not familiar with French music will recognize bits and pieces along the way.

~The movie focuses on the theme of loss throughout Piaf's life. I'm not sure why, but even though I came away overwhelming sad, I never cried or even teared up during the film. Her life was terribly sad, and yet she was not a sad person so you don't necessarily feel sorry for her.

~I think the movie made Edith Piaf seem much weirder than she really was. I came away from the movie almost weary because she seemed to be crazy and erratic for most of her life, but when I looked up some information on her it seemed that, while she did live on the wild side, she wasn't as insane, alcoholic, and drug-addicted as she seemed in the movie.

~The movie jumped around in time a lot. While that can be confusing, I generally enjoy it in a movie because it makes me think more. This was out of control, though. There were so many scenes that were never revisited and I kept waiting for the story to pick them up or tie them in. I get that they were there just to give an idea of the kind of life she was living, but I came away with a frustrated and vague idea of the chronology of her life.

~Finally, I don't mind foreign language films at all, but an entire movie in French is just annoying.

~Oh, and there is a TON of screaming in the movie (you know those crazy, passionate French people). It overwhelmed me a bit.

I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.

Guest blogger AK's other writings can be found at Pulitzer Palavar.

Initial There Will Be Blood Post-Viewing Thoughts

Finally saw There Will Be Blood, a movie first mentioned briefly on StrangeCulture in April 2006, wondering if it had a chance of being an Academy Award winner.

Obviously, as a major nominated film it received some unique attention, especially for a P.T. Anderson film. Yet, the fact is, this doesn't feel at all like a P.T. Anderson film (Magnolia, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk-Love). It doesn't use any of his "typical cast" it doesn't have any of his "typical feel." And it's clear that Anderson was trying to create something different.

If I were to draw any time when I thought about P.T. Anderson and drew a connection to other films, it was in the Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead) score. It's far more of a sound score, than a "musical" one, and the sound creates an emotion, much like other Anderson films.

Also, the other Anderson-esque thing that this film has is it has characters that exhist in a world of complicated morality, and when you watch the film, there are simply moments where you feel akward, as if the characters own complicate morality is exposed and you as the audience should not be looking.

Daniel Day-Lewis is incredible in this "almost over-the-top" role. He balances a part where it's often challenging to know whether to be horrified or laugh at his line delivery. Day-Lewis becomes Daniel Plainview in this movie, and Plainview is a very interesting character. After seeing the film, I fully support the many awards that have been lauded on him, and have no problem with Daniel Day-Lewis maintaining his front-runner status and winning the Oscar for best actor.

I was also impressed with Paul Dano. I expected after seeing the previews that I would grow tedious and annoyed with his character, but the fact of the matter is, his actual screentime is not that frequent, so when the film starts to drag and get boring, the scenes that pit Eli Sunday (Dano) vs. Daniel Plainview end up being quiet entertaining.

I can't decide if I really-liked or just sorta-liked this film. I certainly respected it, and am glad I saw it. Yet there simply were times I felt detatched, and while the narrative and theme of corruption are interesting, the movie really ended up being a character show piece for Daniel Day-Lewis, and a technically exceptional film (Robert Elswit' s cinemotography is excellent, as are the set designs and general art direction of the film).

I think in my mind, I'm still balancing out how I view all the best picture nominated films this year, and one thing is for certain in my mind - There Will Be Blood is a much better film than No Country For Old Men, and it is a shame that No Country For Old Men stole so much attention in the precursor race.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quality 80s? Part III

In a search to find timeless, non-quirky 80s films (inspired by my viewing of The Accidental Tourist) I have begun my movie viewing. Here are some 1980s films I've just watched for the first time and my thoughts on whether they're any good 20-or-so years post-release.

Also enjoy: Part I and Part II.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Directed by Charles Crichton
Recommended by Oscar (winner best supporting actor + 2 noms, writing & directing), Will & Kat

I know I got some slack for some of my criticisms of Say Anything, particularly in how it aged. But with A Fish Called Wanda, despite it's definite 80s-ness, I found it to be one of the most laught-out-loud movies I have ever seen. The perfect combination of the multiple styles of comedy that come out of the 4 supporting-leads (Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, John Cleese, and Michael Palin) is perfect. While I found the situational comedy between Cleese and Curtis, I found Kline's role to be the early model of comedy that Will Ferrell has overdone.

This is a great comedy, and won that deserves recognition, not just in the cannon of great 80s films, but in the realm of great comedies, and great film...period. A very pleasant surprise.

Empire of the Sun (1987)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Recommended by Oscar (6 nominations), Fox, Darrell, & Will

Forget Shia LaBeouf - you want to talk about a young up-and-comer... Christian Bale was amazing as a child actor with the opportunity to carry this film. Spielberg's amazing talent to work with children certainly comes through her. Something about this film is highly respectable, in it's unique historical nature, excellent art direction, music, effects, and over all style. YET there is something in this film that was also tedious and uninteresting. I think many times films of this nature are more biographical in nature then literary, and that leads us to become more emotionally attached. I felt like this was Spielburg cutting his teeth and practicing some ideas that would help him create the masterpiece that is Shindler's List.

I love Christian Bale's character. John Malkovich is always wonderful. Ben Stiller suddenly seems mis-cast as a now famous actor. It's a beautiful respectable film, that is probably simply too long.

Do the Right Thing (1989)
Directed by Spike Lee
Recommend by Oscar (2 noms), Jandy, jeremy, joe valdez and Will

In 2006 MTV awarded Do The Right Thing the "Silver Bucket of Excellence" for a film from the past that has present-day resonance. While films about racial tension have been over played, it's clear that Do The Right Thing has film merit. Yet Spike Lee's stype, the over-acted characters and the bizarre mix of comedy and drama make this film unique as well as an easy film to love or hate.

I certainly wouldn't recommend it to a general viewer, but even as I've avoided this film, I've frequently seen and heard others reference it, so it's film value is unquestionable. My favorite actors in this ensemble where John Turturro (Pino), Ruby Dee (Mother Sister) and suprirsingly Samuel L. Jackson (Mister Señor Love Daddy).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Hope You Have An Angel Too

"I've got an angel
She doesn't wear any wings
She wears a heart that can melt my own
She wears a smile that can make me wanna sing

She gives me presents
With her presence alone
She gives me everything I could wish for
She gives me kisses on the lips just for coming home"

--from "Angel" by Jack Johnson off of the new album Sleep Through The Static

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Writers Strike Over & "Creative Rest"

I mentioned 9 days ago that the writers strike would be ending soon.

Now it is officially over and writers are supposed to return to work today.

Now that the writer's strike is over...

AK, Mercurie, and Jasdye can look forward to future Office episodes.
Crackers and Cheese, Grete can anticipate a full season of Lost.
Jeremy can rest assured the Oscars telecast will air.
West Coast Walker can rest assured that reality TV (like American Gladiators) won't be the only thing on TV.
Mercurie and Jasdye can anticipate future episodes of 30 Rock.
Scott can relax about more anticipated films (like the Hobbit) no longer being delayed.
Amy can be hopeful about Pushing Daisies, 24, the Closer and Damages returning.

Jon posted a link that shows what shows are expected to air when: 24 in January '09, 30 Rock 5-10 episodes in April/May, The Closer starts season 4 this summer, House 4-6 episodes for April/May, 6 episodes still exist of Lost with 5 more to shoot and air in April/May, 6 episodes for the Office in April/May.

I've Had A Thought: "Creative Rest"
Obviously TV has been clearly effected the most by the writers strike, but all along I've been wondering if we'll see a pay-off to this American Writing Sabbath.

Will there be some great new projects (TV and Film) developed in the months ahead as a result of some writing down time?

Maybe the writers put down their pens, but that didn't mean they turned off their brains.

Perhaps this time removed from studio pressures has sparked some unique ideas and creative plans in the minds of some striking writers. Maybe walking away from the job freshened up the regular routines of some and perhaps we'll see a long term pay off from a time of "creative rest?"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jon Foreman's Fall & Winter EPs

Switchfoot's Jon Foreman new solo project is simply amazing and addicting. On November 20, 2007 Foreman released a six song EP called Fall available to download.

Then January 15th, Foreman released Winter online as well as in retail packaging with two CDs (Fall EP & Winter EP). The more I listen to these songs the more they keep on impressing me.

Each 6 song EP has a folksy tone that is very lyrically driven. Yet the music is so unique and full of unique sounds. For example, executive producer and music legend Charlie Peacock is credited with playing piano, wurli 200a, hammond b-3 organ, pro one bass, and the astro organ.

Similarly songs like "The Moon is a Magnet" (Fall EP) has fantastic love lyrics ("what are we if we're not in love?") yet it's musical text is certainly not what you'll notice the first time you listen to. Instead it's the texture of the music with the unique sounding bass clarinet in the background.

On my first couple listens of these two EPs, the absolutly stand out song to me were "Equally Skilled" (Fall EP), which probably sounds most like something that would show up on a Switchfoot album, such as their most recent album "Oh, Gravity!"

The other song that really sticks out the first listen is "Somebody's Baby" (Winter EP) which is a very sad folk-style song about a homeless drug-abusing girl who dies that is discovered by the cops as the result of an annoymous call.

Another early highlight includes "White As Snow" (Winter EP) which plays off of Psalm 51.

Yet as I listen to this CD, every song becomes a favorite...I notice new lyrics, or become attached to the favorite lines or the unique sounds and ambiant sounds that make up songs like "In Love," "Southbound Train," or "My Love Goes Free."

I can't wait for the release of the Spring and Summer EPs later this year.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quality 80s? Part II

In a search to find timeless, non-quirky 80s films (inspired by my viewing of The Accidental Tourist) I have begun my movie viewing. Here are some 1980s films I've just watched for the first time and my thoughts on whether they're any good 20-or-so years post-release.

You can read Part I here.

Silkwood (1983)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Recommended by Oscar (5 nominations)

This story based on the Oklahoma plutonium plant whistle blower Karen Silkwood, reminded me of a less satisfying Erin Brokovich. Meryl Streep of course is excellent in this unglamourous role, but the character of esentric, irresponsible, crude Karen Silkwood is a hard character to become attached to, and the film's final climax is unsuccessful, perhaps because of it's efforts to not make final judgements about the real life scenario as it played out.

As far as 80s film, it's certainly has an 80s feel, but it doesn't have excessive quirkiness, Cher and Kurt Russell's performances are "very 80s," in my opinion. Although quirk-free it's value as a film over time certainly isn't there. This is hardly a must see film.

The Trip to Bountiful (1985)
Directed by Peter Masterson
Recommended by Oscar (1 win Best Actress, also nominated for best adapted screenplay)

When I saw Out of Africa for the first time, I couldn't imagine how Meryl Streep could not win in her unique perfectly executed role, and knew I had to see Geraldine Page in A Trip To Bountiful. I loved this movie. It's not very 80s, because it's a period piece about 1940s Texas and is based on Horton Foote play he wrote in 1954.

You can tell, especially in the first scene that this Independent Film was based on Stage Play, but the story of a old hymn singing woman (Page) living with her son and daughter-in-law in a small Houston home is fantastic. Her son is a coward, and her daughter in law is a cruel money hungry lady, and Carrie Watts in the evening of her life wants to visit her small hometown, even if it means attempting multiple times to run-a-way.

I whole-heartedly recommend this film.

Say Anything... (1989)
Directed by Cameron Crowe
Recommended by Crackers and Cheese

This is certainly and 80s film, and has all the quirk that defines 80s films. Now, don't get me wrong, it's an enjoyable film that could have been super lame had it simply been about the relationships between a slacker boy (John Cusack) and a sweet goal-driven achiever (Ione Skye). Yet the storyline about the girls father (John Mahoney) is really where the Cameron Crowe's creativity is really shown. Here is a unique story, and a unique relationship, integrated in a pre-packed overtold story.

I see the appeal of this story, although the classic scene with Lloyd Dobbler (Cusack) blasting Peter Gabriel "In Your Eyes" is classic 80s, it's just that. If you loved this film in the 80s you'd still love it, but if you're catching it for the first time it's appeal certainly is more limited.

Not only did the 80's really have some wonderful movies... the films have some wonderful movie posters. Show your love of movies with movie memorabilia and decorate your home with some of the best old movie posters to be found.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sequels to Award Winning Film - How About this Year?

Usually it's the action, sci-fi, horror, and super-hero film that's great the sequel treatment, but Oscar Best picture winning films are not immune to the world of Part Duex.

Sure there was never a Casablanca 2, but there was multiple Rambos, A Godfather trilogy, and Silence of the Lambs sequels.

There's still talk of a Departed sequel coming out in 2009.

And even this year we saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the sequelization of a best picture nomined film.

The other day I was driving in my car and began thinking up ridiculous sequels to each of the 5 best picture nominated films from this year.

With a more literary group of films, I couldn't imagine actual realistic sequels, just visions of Keira Knighley killing any of the three characters who played Briony and atoning in prison for her horrible act, writing letters from the prison.

Or a female filled cast for a movie called "No Country for Old Women," finally there would be roles for Sally Field and Glen Close.

Juno could be spun off in a thousand ways, and I decided my favorite options was a story where Juno and Pauly Bleakers child decides it want's to find it's birth parents in adolesence. But of course, there's thousands of way this could go.

My comment to the producer who would consider any of these above projects is "Are you an idiot?" But for the sake of a blog post, it's fun to imagine...just as long as I don't have to see the sequel myself. (Plus, the modified posters were fun to make...plus none of the best picture nominees used Trajan...way to go!)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Quality 80s? Part I

In a search to find timeless, non-quirky 80s films (inspired by my viewing of The Accidental Tourist) I have begun my movie viewing. Here are some 1980s films I've just watched for the first time and my thoughts on whether they're any good 20-or-so years post-release.

Moonstruck (1987)
Directed by Norman Jewison
Recommended by Oscar (3 wins, 6 nominations)

This film is totally quirky, but with the snappy dialogue and Cher's accent it's kind of fun. This film is very 80s for sure, but it was enjoyable too watch. Obviously different people have different thoughts on Nicolas Cage (see post here for proof), but he's absolutly ridiculous in this role, which is why I included his picture as the one associated with this film. In a sense this film some how reminds me of Gilmore Girls.

Enjoyable, quirky, very 80s.

Au revoir, les enfants (1987)
Directed by Louis Malle
Recommended by Oscar (2 noms), Jandy, & Will

I actually watched this right before putting up my post about 80s disappointments. In fact, this film is far from have a 1980s style quirk factor, and while it was semi-engaging and intersting...it was missing some type of magical quality, that say a film about children in war like Forbidden Game (1952) has.

Although I have no concrete complaints, this film really didn't do anything for me.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Recommended by Oscar (1 nom), IMDb (#8 80s film), Mercurie, Will (reluctantly)

I had seen part of this film before, but never watched it start to finish. It's a good film in that Truth-about-Vietnam genre that brought us Stone's Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Forrest Gump-scenes, etc. Obviously the harshness of the barrack scenes that make up the first third of this film is it's most memorable parts. But it's harshness makes it hardly enjoyable, certainly not the type of film you pop in for fun. But, that doesn't disqualify it from being a very respectable 1980s film.

A quality film, just not neccesarily a "fun flick."

Top 26 1980s Films According to the IMDb

I received a tremendous response to my post about the limited amount of quality 1980s films, especially of a timeless nature.

In fact, yesterday George Clooney told Radio Times that "they don't make those films any more." In his inteview he called 1964-1976 the golden age of cinema.

In addition to recommendations that many readers suggested, I thought I would post the current top films according to the IMDb's user votes and their current ranking in IMDb's top 250, of which there are currently 26 films that make the cut.

1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Top 250: #8
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Top 250: #18
3. The Shining (1980) Top 250: #55
3. Boot, Das (1981) Top 250: #60
4. Aliens (1986) Top 250: #69
5. Raging Bull (1980) Top 250: #71
6. Amadeus (1984) Top 250 #85
7. The Elephant Man (1980) Top 250: #90
8. Full Metal Jacket (1987) Top 250: #93
9. Cinema Paradiso (1988) Top 250: #94
10. Once Upon a Time in America (1984) Top 250: #97
11. Blade Runner (1982) Top 250: #98
12. Ran (1985) Top 250: #105
13. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) Top 250: #108
14. Back to the Future (1985) Top 250: #114
15. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Top 250: #119
16. Die Hard (1988) Top 250: #132
17. Platoon (1986) Top 250: #139
18. The Princess Bride (1987) Top 250: #151
19. Stand by Me (1986) Top 250: #161
20. The Thing (1982) Top 250: #175
21. Scarface (1983) Top 250: #186
22. The Terminator (1984) Top 250 #195
23. Glory (1989) Top 250: #198
24. Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) (1988) Top 250: #202
25. A Christmas Story (1983) Top 250: 224
26. Idi I Smotri (Come and See) (1985) Top 250: #231

Do you think this list properly represents the top films of the 1980s? Do you think any of these films are poorly place, included, or is there grave exlusions?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mel Gibson's Trying To Change His Image By Running For President

His plan is working...

You see Mel Gibson's been side...all highs and lows. Gibson winning 2 Oscars for Braveheart was a great peak, but then came the valleys, and then the peaks, and suddenly the peaks weren't high enough.

In addition, Mel Gibson, tired of the allegation of alcholism, anti-semitism, etc. has contrived a plan.

A life makeover and an effort to reach a new peak...the American presidency.

Who knows how "super tuesday" will workout for Mel Gibson and his "new life" in the upcoming primary...but his makeover might just be working.

After some minor plastic surgery (pushing out the cheek bones, tucking the ears, etc.) Mel Gibson has adopted his new look.

He hired a family, asked people to rewrite some history using obscure states like Utah and Massachusett's recent history and rewriting news stories and senate vote records. This was the most challenging part because the politicians and people in Washington rarely would ever consider doing anything unethical, but you know Mad Max and Lethal Weapon are non-partisan favorites.

The writer's strike is convinient...it has allowed him to hire the best writers to write him not only speechs and commercials, but to completly write a full life makeover script. The writers have been working hard, but Mel Gibson pays top dollar.

Let's see how Mel Gibson's writers will do tomorrow as the official writers of the Mitt Romney story.

Writers Strike Settlement Soon???

Cinematical reports that the Writer's Guild and major studios may be close to reaching an agreement...in times for the Oscars and a fall TV schedule. Apparently a newly outlined contract has been created based on the contract created with the directors guild a few weeks ago.

Are you ready for the writer's strike to be over? Has this stike affected you in anyway?
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