Thursday, December 31, 2009
This past year I read a book by praised British author Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down.
The premise of this book is simple, four totally different characters find themselves on top of a tall building in London called Topper's House on New Year's Eve all with the intentions of throwing themselves off the roof and committing suicide.
The book, written in first person narrative tells the story seamlessly transitioning from one character to the next as they describe the scenes that follow, which are suprisingly comical at times for a book about suicide.
The four characters are quite different: Martin Sharp, a "breakfast television" host whose life is ruined by a sex scandal with an underage prostitute; Maureen, a patheticly lonely single woman who has been raising her disabled son since birth with no human contact with the exception of a her Sunday church friends; Jess a crazy outrage girl who's teen angst and heartbreak seem quite pathetic as the story begin, but who's value to the story is pivotal at every step of the way; and JJ an American kid who's failure as a musician has him artistically contemplative about the meaning of life.
And so the story begins and unfolds in a unique way, with these unique characters take turns telling their story.
One of the things I like about this story is that despite it's collection of relatively unredemptive characters, who's personalities, foul-mouths, and self-centered behavior makes them unlikely heroes. The Maureen character is to be the shining star of the story, because she, in her naivete is the one who warrants the most sympathy. She's the one in the shadow's who sees her life as an unending hopeless string of days.
The other characters certainly don't warrant the same level of emotional connection, but their literary pontification on the meanings of their lives and creating a mental framework for their desire to kill themselves is certainly interesting.
While this book is not quite literary genius, or even the best thing I've read this year, it does some neat things, and is compelling and interesting. My respect for Nick Hornby continues to grow with each project of his, even the screenplay he wrote for this year's (fantastic) film, An Education, demonstrates Horby's best qualities. Whether it's Fever Pitch, About a Boy, A Long Way Down, or any of his other projects I continue to be impressed. Horby walks a careful line between comedy and drama as he captures people as they are with out over-dramatic crescendo's but instead with capturing the fragility of our decisions and responses to everyday life.
Happy New Year's Eve!
Monday, December 28, 2009
2. Robert Downey Jr is very talented. He plays the part, the way that it's written, excellently, and I can't imagine any actor doing nearly as well.
3. When ever you see a movie people seem to ask, "did you like it?" as if it was so simple. This film was entertaining, but wasn't the gem of this years film season. It was what it was. It'll be popular, I'm sure as some people "fall in love with the film" we will see more polarization of opinion.
4. I enjoyed the film more because of my interest in the television series House. I know that Hugh Laurie's Dr. House character is based in part on Holmes, but with limited knowledge of the complete Holmes-package, I could definitely see how Dr. Wilson plays a Dr. Watson role as well.
5. I don't know if Arthur Conan Doyle's original work focused on dark themes of occult, but the witchcraft elements in this film were a large part of what made me not be completely in love with this film's stories.
6. Speaking of dark elements, when I saw this in the theater there had to be no less than 10, maybe more, previews. Many, many, many of them were ubber-dark themes.
7. Jude Law is good, but not amazing - just does what he's supposed to do. I'd like to see a Jude Law performance that amazes...it's been awhile. Actually Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood), Eddie Marsan (Inspector Lestrade), and even Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler) seem to provide strong under-the-radar performances.
8. Props to Guy Richie for putting together something that will surely be seen as a box-office success story and surely the pieces must be in play for a sequel based off opening weekend numbers.
9. I wish I was more connected to Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes writings and read some of the stories before seeing the film so that I could evaluate his stories better up against the film adaptation.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Russell Crowe really kicked off the decade with a bang showing up at the Oscar ceremony three times for back-to-back critcally acclaimed performances (1999's The Insider, 2000's Gladiator, and 2001's A Beautiful Mind).
Since A Beautiful Mind, the actor has continued to pursue interesting work, but stayed out of the year's top 5 performances.
Every year I wait and watch for Crowe to return to a previous glory, but previous efforts have fallen short.
2010 is not a year packed full of contenders for Crowe, but it would appear his chance comes in Ridley Scott's adaptation of Robin Hood, where Crowe's incarnation will surely be a little more brawny then say the sequins clad Errol Flynn of the 1938 classic.
At this point, I don't count Crowe in early-on, but I certainly never count him out.
Could he get his 4th nomination on 2010? We'll see...but staring alongside Cate Blanchett (Maid Mairan) can't hurt.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
1. The best scene single scene in the movie is when the three leads (George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga) share a scene together at the hotel bar. Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is in the scene only functionally, but these two supporting women get a chance to share their incredible skills together on screen. As their characters discuss what they're looking for in men, the sharp dialogue and exceptional delivery makes this scene one of my favorite scenes of the season.
2. Longer than a scene, but an incredible slice of film is the entire wedding portion of the film. Amy Morton's role as Clooney's sister is great, and the transition to hand held camera creates an intimacy in the film that is executed with great technique, effective without causing distraction.
3. The use of music in this film is truly enjoyable. The soundtrack is filled with a number of "perfect songs." Director Jason Reitman is proving that part of his success comes from his soundtrack. The Up In The Air soundtrack doesn't even include all the songs in the film. One of the best songs in the film appears on The soundtrack is "Help Yourself" by Sad Bad Smith, which occurs during the wedding scene. Other songs on the album include pieces by Elliot Smith, Dan Auerbach and Charles Atlas. (note: Anna Kendrick's rendition of 'Time After Time' by Cyndi Lauper is not on the album.)
4. I believe part of the magic of this film is the way it sociologically captures so many important modern changes and emotions. Whether it's about following boyfriends to new towns, changes in technology and corporate structure, corporate impersonality, conflict between work life and personal life, family differences, corporate business programs, and emotions of being surrounded and alone.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I can't imagine what type of request Depp agent has to screen through, and further still how they decide what crazy roles Depp is willing to take on.
Of course, not every role is absolutely over the top, there's no doubt Depp has range. Early on in the year there definitely seemed like Depp might get Academy Award recognition for Public Enemies playing John Dillinger, but precursor's, even the Golden Globes (8 nominations in lifetime) have passed up this performance.
Johnny Depp's previous three Oscar nominations have all been from this decade and include his performances in Finding Neverland, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and Sweeney Todd.
Next year Depp has at least two prestige performances, one as the over the top Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. And while Depp is sure to enchant in this role, I would assume the over the top performance probably isn't his Oscar gem (but of course, one would have thought the same thing initially of his Jack Sparrow creation for Pirates of the Caribbean.)
Depp also has a role in the film the Rum Diary, a long discussed film adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary, where Depp stars as a journalist in the late 1950s who tires of American life and moves to Puerto Rico to write for the San Juan Star newspaper. There he chases women and soaks himself in alcohol.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Iskander graciously fielded the question with this answer...
"I hope Garbage Dreams will encourage people to re-examine the true value of what they throw away each day and the real cost of throwing out the expertise of Zaballeen. The Zaballeen would work long into the night to clean up after us, the modern, industrialized world. Beyond that, by creating the world’s most effective resource recovery system they are actually saving our earth. From out of the trash, they lifted themselves out of poverty and have a solution to the world’s most pressing crisis.
"I also hope that everyone who sees Garbage Dreams can see a little bit of themselves in the three teenagers of the film. I hope that everyone who sees the film sees beyond the hardship and poverty of the Zaballeen and discovers the riches they possess - the depth of their love and the strength of their community."
*Pictured above is director/producer, Mai Iskander accepting the One Earth award from Al Gore earlier this year in conjunction with her directing/producing Garbage Dreams.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The new top 5 looks something like this...
1. The Blindside (2009) $164 million & Counting (*The Blind Side came in #3 in it's 5th week)
2. The Waterboy (1998) $161 million
3. The Longest Yard (2005) $158 million
4. Jerry Maguire (1996) $153 million
5. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) $148 million
I think this is one of the surprises of the season. When I initially saw the preview for this real-story inspired movie I thought this movie is what America is looking for at the cinema, so am not surprised.
But I certainly know that studios have to be having conversations about this film, based on Michael Lewis' book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game has become such a success.
Clearly the success is not just that it's a sports movie, because there have been other less successful sports movies.
I think Hollywood wants to credit the success to Sandra Bullock claiming her entertainer of the year and giving her critical buzz, maybe even an Oscar nomination. But it can't just be Bullock, because as of this weekend, this film has grossed more than the popular romantic comedy earlier this year The Proposal ($163.9 million).
I think it's a story that connects with a lot of people, not because they have adopted an over-weight person without a family, but because this act of Christian love and giving is something that is attracted and a desire of people's hearts.
Hollywood doesn't really produce to many contemporary dramas that aren't rated R, and for something to tell a real story, but be not drenched with violence, foul language and sex, is meaningful to people.
This film could have some ripples, if not in the way some respond to the film, but also in some movies that pop-up on the Hollywood calenders in the next couple years.
Side note: Not everyone loves this film -- there is a series of dramatic responses to this film in my first post on this film: Check out those strong comments here.
Side note #2: If you enjoyed this film, may I recommend you check out The Rookie, another sport-themed movie about Baseball directed by John Lee Hancock. This is a moving film about the real-life story of Jim Morris, a baseball player with a short-lived career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The film stars Dennis Quaid.
This film is fascinating, particularly in the intimate story telling about the life of the 60,000 Zabbaleen, a group of Coptic Christians who live on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. These people make their living by collecting garbage from Cairo and then from there sorting through it to recycle the raw materials and sell in Egypt and further.
In Garbage Dreams, I watch as a Westerner initially with some disgust...these people gather trash and bring it to their home. What type of logic is that?, I think. But as their story unfolds, the disgust turns to awe -- these people are recycling 80% of the trash that they collect.
Where my wife and I live, we have the choice the pay more for recycling services, or a lower rate that excludes recycling services. So, it costs to recycle, and in this film these people are using their manual labor and willingness to get their hands dirty to turn a profit. They are manually sorting the garbage and preparing it for recycling - it's fascinating.
And when a few get a chance to travel overseas to see the mechanisation of recycling in Wales, they are in awe of sorting bins and machinery that sorts automatically, but with a recycling rate of less than 30% rate I think their awe is mixed with missed opportunity seeing some recyclable materials missed and sent to landfills - a lost treasure in their mind.
So I watch this and wonder...what is the response.
Obviously, not all documentaries need a response, and while this documentary has been praised by environmentalist and names like Al Gore, the film to me is far more about the modern struggles of this unique group of people, the Zabbaleen, and their unique society and mind-set as they are forced to deal with modernization in a way that adversely effects them...and actually is less ecological.
So is the response that we should care about Egypt's trash collecting future, and discourage these less-ecological foreign companies, is the response to try to be more Zabbaleen ourselves and fight to not bury valuable resources in the dirt, or is it to try to send these kids to America and Western wasteful nations to give them the opportunity to recycle in these places?
The film doesn't really direct a response. So as this film picks up awards and recognition for creating ecological awareness it will be interesting to see what value and meaning is pumped into this film.
I can't quite say what response the film is interested in creating, but I can say that the story of these people a world apart from our own experiences is an incredible story, and I'm thankful for the exposure of these stories. Director Mai Iskander has done a beautiful job telling this story in a clear, thoughtful, and engaging way.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
5. Gilmore Girls (WB/CW, 7 seasons, 2000-2007)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
For some reason there was a fascination, and this resulted in kids photocopying lots of pictures of bottle nose dolphins and humpback whales to glue to a poster board.
Everyone wanted to be a marine biologist.
I think in my mind it was the elementary-aged love affair with the dolphin that kept my interest love in the acclaimed documentary of the year, The Cove.
This is not the oceanic-dolphin-environmental-hold-your hands-sing-kumbaya type of film I expected.
In fact, it's far more like a spy thriller of unlikely activist. A film where DNA experts, deep sea divers, live concert roadie, military ops professionals, and Industrial Light and Magic play a hand in something bigger than Danny Ocean and his gang could ever pull off.
As this assembled team of specialist get together the film creates a true sense of suspense that many film fail to create, and in The Cove the suspense is magnified, because it is real, and has real consequences.
And while I was most surprised and entertained by the spy-intrigue this film melds together other unique, moving, informative and entertaining qualities.
You have a handful of conspiracy's revealed, within the multi-country governance of International Whaling Commission (IWC), as well as the Japanese food and health industry.
Beyond that you have the sentimental story of Flipper trainer Ric O'Barry, who's story is surprisingly touching and captivating.
And finally, you do have the majestic images of these beautiful sea mammals.
With all the other stories, interviews, high-skilled sneakery going on in this film, all with exceptionally documented footage, it's hard to not recommend this film. It's mixture of elements all formed around impactful story telling make it clearly one of this year's best films.
The Cove is surely on the path to an Academy Award nomination, if not a win in the feature length documentary category.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I'm not sure exactly why I haven't had much to say, but here are some top guesses:
1. Some people are so excited for this movie that I felt like I couldn't say anything about this film. The comic-con crowd was covering it to death.
2. Some people have been tracking this project since 1994 when James Cameron first started talking about it.
3. The details of this story seemed to be coming out more and more as the year went on and I didn't want to wrap myself into the storyline ahead of time.
4. With a budget well over $200 million, I'd hate to get excited about a bust.
5. Blue people?
...anyways, this film is coming out this weekend and I'm starting to get excited and very interested to see how this film is received. It'll need some big fan-boys and strong word of mouth to get above it's budget and transition into "profit" zone.
I've been excited to see this film get award recognition, particularly the drama and director nominations from the Golden Globes and Broadcast Film Critics Association.
This tells me this is more than just a sci-fi IMAX explosion, but that this film could be something special, and that Cameron's 15 year labor of love, might be a cinematic gift.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Surprised Inglorious finds it's spot here, I think the nomination of Avatar & Inglourious here both bodes well for it's best picture chances. Notable exclusions include The Lovely Bones, AN Education and Invictus.
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Not quite a precursor, but fun for it being a different category. Nine will keep on showing up, as will Meryl from Julie, but otherwise this show is these other films glory moment.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
I suppise Maguire is the surprise here -- I would assume he will have to give up his spot to Daniel Day-Lewis (Nine) for the Oscars, Day-Lewis shows up in the musical/comedy category for the globes. Notable exclusion include Viggo Mortesen (The Road) and Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker).
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
I was a little surprised that they went for Stuhlbarg just for his lack of fame, but each of these 5 were in my list, with Stuhbarg in the 8th spot.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
No big surprise here, although with one or two uncertain spots in the expected Academy Awards list this type of exposure is key for actresses like Blunt, Mirren, and Bullock. With Mulligan not picking up the precursor like I've expected, I hope she win's hear, although almost any of these women could walk across the stage on January 17 at the Globe award show.
Sandra picks up her 2nd nod in the category and Streep has two in this single category. These two women are dominating Hollywood this year. Globes didn't have very many choices here, and I'm sure there will be some complaints about Roberts inclusion, especially in place of Zoey Deschanel. All these 5 made my possibilities list, but Roberts was at the bottom of the 10.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture
This looks like a popular list these days, the Oscars list could be identical.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture
I thought the globes might surprise her with some with star power like Mariah Carey in Precious, but clearly they liked Up In The Air and the double Up in The Air nod could carry through award season with Kendrick and Farmiga alongside eachother.
Former spouses compete (Bigelow vs. Cameron) and Clint Eastwood competes here without a best picture nomination. Lee Daniels director of Precious is excluded.
Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Surprise for District 9, showing up only here and Quinnntin Tarantino has to be feeling good this morning.
Best Original Song - Motion Picture
No Princess & The Frog - and this is the first mention I've heard of the song from Brothers. Avatar is picking up awards everywhere. The hype might be real?
Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Globes usually do a better job here in this category than Oscar does. Congrats to the nominees.
Best Animated Film
No surprises, easily the Oscar nods.
Foreign Language Film, TV-Drama, TV-Comedy, TV Mini-series, TV Actor & TV Actress (Drama, Comedy, Miniseries/TV Movie) can all be seen here.
Today's big winners seem like Up in the Air, Bullock, Avatar, Meryl Streep, Quinton Tarantino.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
1. The Messenger tells a profound and simple story of two different US Army men who have the responsibility of notifying the next of kin of the death of Army soldiers within a short period of time after their death. The moment of telling families of death is something that has appeared in other films, but I've never seen a film with this central plot concept.
2. This film, while warranting some discussion about politics and the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan is not an overly politicized message film that speaks for-or-against our current war in any strong ways that I would expect people to find offensive. The story is too personal in it's scope to let those bigger polarizing ideas taint this film.
3. Ben Foster's performance is subtle, and while at first I wasn't sure if it was worth the hype as you get into the film his performance as Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery only improves.
4. The praise for Woody Harrelson in the role of Captain Tony Stone is absolutely warranted. He was incredible, convincing, and moving in a realistic way.
5. I am a fan of Samantha Morton, and think she's one of the best actresses working today. Her performance in this film is good, it warrants what is asked. I don't think she will be showered with awards for this performance, more because of the scope of the role, not the way the role is handled.
6. There's a wedding party scene that rivals the anxiety that is felt by the similar scene in Rachel Getting Married.
7. There's a couple sex scenes in the film that while could arguably have a purpose in describing the character and emotional connection to certain people, but I personally would have enjoyed the movie more if these scenes were tamed down.
8. I didn't know about the Steve Buscemi's role in the film, it's small, but well played. The role was perfect for Buscemi.
9. You can imagine that every experience that these men have telling people about the death of their next of kin is unique, and waiting to see what emotion will be exhibited by the families and next of kin is powerful in it's own ways. In this regard the film tells a very human story.
10. If this film has any sort of popular or critical success I think this might be the start of director/screenwriter Oren Moverman's name representing someone who needs to be on the radar for his future projects...if he keeps telling simple and powerful stories like this people will pay attention.
Related post: The Messenger & Contemporary War Films (Nov 26, 2009)
1. Daniel Day Lewis, Nine
Saturday, December 12, 2009
In the film Sullivan's Travels (1941), John Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is a financially successful film director who wants to move away from comedic film successes (like "Ants in the Plants") and instead do sometime more significant.
He wants to direct a great depression film called O, Brother Where Art Thou? that will be a"commentary on modern conditions, stark realism, the problems that confront the average man."
As Sullivan goes about his journey in the film he discovers value in comedy, especially in the midst of hardship.
Preston Sturges' film captures a truth that I think everyone understands which is that there is a immense value in comedy.
I don't think film studios are afraid of comedy, they here comedy and they think of films that are cheap to produce with respectable profit margins. Hence we see films like Old Dogs (starring John Travolta & Robin Williams) hit theaters and despite dismal reviews the film gets wide distribution and makes it's production budget of $35 million dollars within the first 14 days of release.
Slapping the word "comedy" on a film doesn't make it funny and valuable. There doesn't seem to be a high value on comedy and I can't think of many director's who are considered "quality directors" who are in the comedic film industry.
I think the audience is interested in some quality comedy. Sure critics might be apprehensive. Award bodies may deem the product to light-weight. Talented actors might shy away for the chance to play award baity parts of prostitutes, drunks, and literary figures.
I believe audiences are open to embarrassing a comedy that can stand up the classic comedies of the past, they're just waiting for someone to remember that they're the ones who are sitting in the seats.
One of the unique qualities of the show, and particularly the writing and Lorelai Gilmore's character (and Lauren Grahams acting) is that this modern television show used the screw-ball comedy devices of the 1930s. Where Katherine Hepburn nailed these roles in the 1930s in her Howard Harks/Carey Grant films, Lauren Graham also succeeded.
I think it's easy on first view to here the fast-talk of the Gilmore's or the silly talk we see in characters like Susan Vance (Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby) or Linda Senton (Hepburn in Holiday), but once you "give in" to the insanity, there's something magical about that type of dialogue. Perhaps it is that same cynicism to witty-fast-talk that also made some love (and some not-so-love) the Diablo Cody's writing in Juno ("That ain't no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet").
I remember watching Bringing Up Baby, and at every turn, when I give myself into Katherine Hepburn's antics, whether it's being so relentless forgiving to her dog while being so oblivious to David's (Carey Grant) uptightness and inconvenience, or walking around with a broken high heel in the county jail, I think to myself...this is comedy genius and Hepburn at center stage is lovely and entertaining.
So with that I present you a favorite clip from Bringing Up Baby that will get me singing out of tune for days...
This post is part of the Katherine Hepburn blog-a-thon at Encore Entertainment.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Where Under our Skin is about a disease, the documentary Living in Emergency is about doctors.
Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders, has such a perfect title. The documentary shows a selection of doctors who go on mission with the non-profit organization Médecins Sans Frontières. Founded in 1971, this Nobel Peace Prize winning organization provides medical care in war torn countries all around the world.
The doctors in this film come from a variety of countries, some are well seasoned and used to working with MSF, while others are experiencing this for the first time.
While the organization has doctors in various places in the world, this film focuses on doctors in the African counties of Liberia and Congo as both these countries are in the midst of their own horrific wars.
Where the telegraph compared Living In Emergency as a cross between Gregory House and Hawkeye Piere of M*A*S*H...I personally found this story to be more similar to that our say...Scrubs.
No, Zach Braff doesn't make an appearance, but rather in the early seasons of the television show these newbies are experiencing medicine in a whole new way, they are loosing sleep, getting stressed, and having to deal with harsh realities of death and disease without the glamour they may have dreamed of.
Living in Emergency, is just that...only more real, more on the edge, and well...not quite as funny.
The style of this documentary is very voyeuristic. Mark N. Hopkin's style as a director of this film is raw and unrefined. As a viewer, you watch this film as though you are spying on something going on, you are literally seeing these doctors squeezed into new circumstances moment after moment.
Many documentaries are crafted in away to generate an emotion or calculated response. That was not this film. It would seem this film's primary purpose is to show what it is truly like to be a doctor with this organization.
These doctors are not all portrayed as model heroes, the way these doctors exhibit and release there stress sometimes captures them in their own vulnerabilities. These doctors often voice frustration with the organization, other NGOs, and each other.
There in lies the charm of this film. Watching it opens up discussion. Watching it helps you think about things outside of the realm of our own isolation. Watching it challenges our thoughts on aid, service, and most importantly humanity.
Opportunity to See This Film with Live Panel Discussion: December 14, 2009
This film, one of the 15 films that has been short listed for an Academy Award for best picture and many people will have the unique opportunity to watch this film in theaters this upcoming Monday December 14.
On the evening of December 14, over 400 movie theaters will show this film followed by a live panel discussion lead by Elizabeth Vargas of ABC's 20/20. The panel discussion will feature doctors who appear in the film along with the director.
To see theaters where the film is being shown and to buy tickets to this unique one night event you can go to the Fathom website.
Monday, December 07, 2009
I wanted to pretend I flew out to DC over the weekend just to get these, shots. But, these are from a couple months ago when earlier in the fall my wife and I visited DC. While there, we had the chance to see Julia Child's kitchen.
Julia's kitchen has it's own life and history. If you read My Life in France by Julia Child, you find that Julia's obsession and dedication to fool proof French cooking led her down an interesting path of kitchen gadgetry. This led to some bizarre tools, giant pestles and expensive copper cookware.
Paul Child, who to me is just as interesting to me as Julia herself, helped design and organize the various kitchen's that the couple lived in, particularly in helping Julia have access and organization to her many tools.
By the time they retired in Santa Barbara, California, Paul was able to design Julia's dream kitchen with high counters and spot for every knife, cookbook, and skillet.
One of pop culture events that define this past decade is the stories of Julie Powell and Julia Child, individually and intertwined in this film.
Nora Ephron's film adaptation has reintroduced people to the first television chef, a crazy tall American woman who's love of French food convinced her that she wanted to figure out how to make and teach the craft, with American ingredients and measurements. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci's portrayal of this crazy couple was comedic and pleasurable.
And perhaps Julie Powell's story (and Amy Adams) portrayl was less positive, perhaps because Powell is her own modern foul-mouthed woman with a less sophisticated life, as some continue to find out in her affair detailing follow-up to Julie & Julia, titled Cleaving, which in addition to telling the story of her attempts to learn about buthcery also details the failings of her own marriage with Eric.
But whether it's video's of Julia Child cooking, the cookbook, the movie, or the biography, some how Julia Child has left her mark and found her way back into American homes and kitchens.
With all this rediscover, having a chance to see her actual kitchen on display was a real treasure.
And no, I didn't leave any butter as a memorial to her.
The NBR award's didn't really tell us too much about this award season that we didn't already assume, but they're choice for Best Supporting Actor was a name that hasn't really been tossed around, which is is Woody Harrelson for The Messenger.
The last time the supporting actor was nominated was Phillip Seymour Hoffman who won in 1999 for his work in Magnolia and the Talented Mr. Ripley...but of course, the Academy has since "made good." So with that I present some updated supporting actor predictions.
Tier 1, Predicted 5
1. Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
2. Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
3. Alfred Molina, An Education
4. Woody Harrelson, The Messenger *New*
5. Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Tier 2, On the Edge
6. Matt Damon, Invictus ▼
7. Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
8. Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated
9. Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia ▲
10. Peter Sargaard, An Education
Tier 3, Perhaps Possible
11. Kodi Smit-McPee, The Road ▼
12. Paul Giamatti, The Last Station *New*
13. Christian McKay, Me and Orson Wells *New*
14. Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes *New*
15. Robert Duvall, The Road ▼
Off the list: Richard Kind, A Serious Man; Jeff Bridges, The Men Who Stare at Goats; Tobey Maguire, Brothers; Paul Schneider, Bright Star
Most Recent Predictions: Best Actor ( 11/27/09); Best Actress (11/28/09); Best Supporting Actress (10/25/09)
Saturday, December 05, 2009
My wife and love House, and one of the things we surprisingly enjoy is the complexity of test, symptoms, and and challenges associates with mysterious diseases. The disease itself is practicly a character.
The picutre above is a syphilis spirochete, similar in appearance to the Lyme disease bacteria. In this film the bacteria is it's own character in this unique story.
Watching this film is 104 minutes well spent, but it's not just informative, it's interesting. The film making is of the highest quality, not using gimmicks, but in telling tight stories in a clear and interesting way.
The film tells the stories of individuals and families fighting through the battles of chronic Lyme disease, one of the primary stories is that of Mandy Hughes, a sea world trainer in Orlando who records her deteriation and antibiotic treatment with a specialist from North Carolina.
It's as though once you have enough "fan base" to release four or five albums, you are positioned to release a Christmas album. And you no what - we buy them. And for one month of the year many people listen to hardly anything but songs of the season.
I recently asked on Facebook my personal friends there favorite Christmas albums, and here's the albums they mentioned.
Here's what my friends mentioned:
Diana Krall Christmas Songs by Diana Krall and Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Christmas by Rebecca St. James
The Holiday Collection by Kenny G
Merry Christmas by Johnny Mathis
Home for Christmas by 'N Sync
Let It Snow Baby... Let It Reindeer by Relient K
Christmas Eve and Other Stories by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Barenaked for the Holidays by Barenaked Ladies
Peace on Earth by Casting Crowns
Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs by Chris Tomlin
Christmas Favorites by Bing Crosby
White Christmas by Rosemary Clooney
Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings by Gene Autry
Best of All: KVIL Christmas 1998 by Various Artist
White Christmas by Bing Crosby
Christmas Collection by the Carpenters
Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey
Santa's Playlist by Sister Hazel
The Season for Romance by Lee Ann Womack
Harry for the Holidays by Harry Connick Jr.
Christmas by Alabama
Noel by Josh Groban
Elf: Music From The Major Motion Picture by Various Arists
What are your favorites? What essential Christmas albums are missing?
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Sundance Film Festival will be January 21-31. Just this week they have announced their 2010 line-up.
Below are the primary films that seem to deal most specifically with religion in their central plot/documentary themes.
U.S. Documentary Competition
Bhutto (Directors: Jessica Hernandez and Johnny O'Hara; Screenwriter: Johnny O'Hara) - deals with the controversial Muslim figure, Benazir Bhutto, the recently deceased former prime minister of Pakistan.
12th & Delaware (Directors: Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing) - The directors of Jesus Camp take on the topic of abortion in American town.
U.S. Dramatic Competition
Holy Rollers (Director: Kevin Tyler Asch; Screenwriter: Antonio Macia)- A young Hasidic Jew is (Jesse Eisenberg, pictured right) is lured into becoming a New York Ecstasy dealer.
Sympathy for Delicious (Director: Mark Ruffalo; Screenwriter: Christopher Thornton) - A newly paralyzed DJ (Orlando Bloom) seeks out the world of faith healing on the streets of LA, and discovers he can cash in on his gifts.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
The film's title, Invictus, is inspired by the poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley. Invictus meaning "unconquered" in Latin was written from a hospital bed as Henley struggled with his health relating tuberculosis as well as having an amputated limb.
This poem was first published in 1875.
by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.