Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gulliver's Travels, Will Always Be A Story without Plot

I don't understand why people continue to adapt Gulliver's Travels into film, as we see in this year's holiday bust staring Jack Black.

I remember in college reading Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift and being deathly bored.

I do not deny it's "classic" status and find some of Swift's uses of narrative to present ideas quite interesting on a rhetorical level, but on an entertainment level beyond the fact that there's giants and little people this story is quiet bland and is far more about political ideology than anything else.

And yet, we continue to see this book adapted into film versions again and again. I remember watching the 1996 miniseries with some modest enjoyment (Ted Danson as Gulliver), but even still this story has no plot.

I don't blame Swift for writing with out a plot, because in the 1700's plot was not a prized literary devise as it is today, and again, plot was not Swift's objective.

Yet in the twenty-first century film seems to hinge on special effects and plot. Gulliver's Travels does offer some opportunity to for effects and trickery, but when it comes to plot it has none and so does not make for a modern film. Period.

So, why Rob Letterman would be put to task to direct this film, I have no idea. Nor do I have an idea why it would be positioned as a "holiday blockbuster." Gulliver's Travels can never be told in an intriguing enough way to satisfy modern audiences.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Lost character could get an Oscar nomination this year?

It's a minor character from season 6 of Lost, and it's the character Lennon played by John Hawkes. You'll remember him as one of the "others" who took refuge in the temple and was killed by Sayid.

With only 3 episode's Hawkes as Lennon still made for a dynamic character in Lost, and after many different character roles John Hawkes is getting some surprise Oscar buzz for his role of Teardrop in the film Winter's Bones.

Hawkes does a fabulous job in Winter's Bone, and his buzz was cemented earlier this month when he was nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild award for best supporting actors alongside Christian Bale (The Fighter), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffulo (The Kid's Are All Right), and Geoffery Rush (The King's Speech).

Although, depending on the love for The Social Network, someone like Andrew Garfield could pop in and take his place for the Oscar nominations (or Even Matt Damon, True Grit or Sam Rockwell, Conviction). Although, I like seeing John Hawkes name here, the role is certainly Oscar worthy in a film that it is hard to tell where exactly Oscar will award it or ignore it.
Pictured top to bottom: John Hawkes as Lennon on Lost; John Hawkes as Teardrop Dolly in Winter's Bone.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Okay Blockbuster Experience

I've written a number of post over the past couple years either generally down on the relevance of Blockbuster Video or about their potential demise as a company.

But today I wanted to share a positive Blockbuster Video experience I had the other evening.

Having missed the movie The Town when it was in the theater, I was paying attention to it's DVD release date, especially since the film has been met with a little award season afterglow (top 10 list, Jeremy Renner nominations, etc.)

So, I braved my fears and went to Blockbuster to pay the irrelevant 4.99 rental cost. But the fact of the matter was this was were I could get the film. Not at a Redbox or the library, but at Blockbuster.

Additionally, I was surprised that they no longer had the "no late fee campaign" and instead had a much more logical 3 day rental window. They also had a new tiered rental plan that ranged from 99 cents to 4.99 for "just in" movies. This tiered strategy is not new, but I can appreciate the tiers, especially if it means blockbuster will have older movies available in stock for a low price for times you need to catch up on some older films or quickly get your hands on a favorite.

Although, it's my experience that where applicable, the local library is still the best place to get a film that's been out for a bit.

Finally, I was surprised at how many people were in line renting movies. Sure it's the holidays, but it was also a week night, and there was a line and people were getting movies.

Perhaps, somehow Blockbuster will find it's new niche in an age of Netflix, Red Box, Internet and on demand TV options.

Previous Blockbuster Video Related Posts:

Monday, December 20, 2010


With the Afghanistan war covered more in the news in regards to the perceptions of the war on the home front than the action overseas I found the documentary Restrepo, the 2010 release that won the grand jury prize for best documentary at this year's Sundance Field Festival held this past January.

Restrepo is directed by American journalist Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington. Sebastian Junger made a name for himself when he wrote The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea, a book about a fishing boat and it's crew members off the coast of Nova Scotia. This book was later adapted to film.

In Restrepo, Sabastian Junger is a hidden narrator telling his story strictly through the words of soldiers and images of a year spent in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan during 2007, the Korangal Valley.

As he follows a single platoon, this film puts legs on the high degree of fighting that one portion of the military is engaging in. It's shocking to watch this as these soldiers are literally being fired on every day and engaging in combat.

The film presents itself with little commentary, and it seems pretty clear that Junger is not trying to push an agenda, but instead present a journalistic perspective on one of the fiercest fire fights out there.

The film's title comes from the name of a member of the combat team who is lost early in the film, and as a result becomes the namesake of an outpost that is built that will go on to bear his name.

When Outpost Restrepo is shown being built in this film, it is a powerful and amazing thing. I have not seen modern images of the conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan like this and for that reason alone I highly value having seen this documentary.

The documentary isn't a popcorn flick, instead it mirrors much of the intensity that was present in the film The Hurt Locker, except the difference is this footage is real. The images and reality are sometimes hard to stomach but it's hard to criticize reality or the bravery of these soldiers.

This film is also one of the fifteen films shortlisted for an Oscar nomination for best documentary, but beyond the awards race, this film is an important journalistic piece and I think while perhaps difficult to watch, has immense value. Thank you Junger and Hetherinton for making this film.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The other night we watched the 1965 classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I think in watching it with my wife and daughter that it could be the start of a new tradition.

There are definitely some "classic" scenes including the classic charlie brown Christmas tree, and his personal frustrations with the commercialization of Christmas.

I enjoy these sentiments presented in the uniquely Charlie Brown way, and the unabashed presentation of Jesus' birth, especially with Linus' bible quoting the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:8-14).

Yet at the same time, this 55 year old special also lacks some modern sparkle and plays out much like it's Sunday morning counterpart, so needless to say it wasn't as engaging as I would have hoped.

Something I never really picked up on as a child was all the references to the aluminum Christmas trees, something that clearly dates this special as a creation of the 1960s. Perhaps it was Charlie Brown's negativity towards these metallic creations that made them shortly become extinct.

I don't know if we'll hit up this special again next year, but I must say I'm glad to have rewatched it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


It's been exactly one year since Avatar was released in theaters. After it $27 million dollar opening day it would continue to excel at the box office.

Without adjusting for inflation, Avatar would go on to have the records for the highest earnings in the US and Worldwide with a domestic gross of $760,478,635 and a worldwide gross of $2,777,461,400.

I still struggle to think what the long-term interest in this film might be since a year later it seems like the buzz quickly fell, although James Cameron is apparently busy at work on turning Avatar into a franchise with the second film slated for 2014 and the third in 2015.

I'm not surprised in the interest in trilogizing the film (if Titanic wasn't based on a true story, I'm sure we would have seen Titanic 2...not sure what that story would be like since the boat sunk, but they would think of something).

But love it or hate it, I think one thing to be appreciated by all when it comes to Avatar is that studios in a time of financial difficulty were able to get enough support to produce a high budget original film not based on any previous source material. And it was a success, and I think we can all appreciate, especially after a year like this past year, that there are still original stories to be told.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favorite Christmas Music

Christmas means a lot of different things to people, so it's no wonder that many people like different types of Christmas music.

Last year I put together a list of my friend's favorite Christmas albums, and as expected it was diverse (everything from Diane Krall, Alabama, Bing Crosby, N'Sync, Johnny Mathis, Tran-Siberian Orchestra, Chris Tomlin, Sister Hazel, and The Carpenters).

But an album, or rather collection, that wasn't mentioned in the post or comments was the Sufjan Steven's collection Songs for Christmas.

This collection of 5 albums has really been a gem for me this holiday season. I generally enjoy the music of Sufjan Stevens, but something magical happens on this Christmas album.

Perhaps it's the combination of the sacred and secular in a way that is seamless while maintaining musical creativity all at the same time makes this so favorite. Even hymns like "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing" show up on this CD, but only after following a uniquely memorable song I've enjoyed called "Put the Lights on the Tree."

With 42 exceptional tracks on these 5 cds, this album, Songs for Christmas, is by far a favorite of mine this holiday season.

What music have you been enjoying this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waste Land

When I heard about the documentary Waste Land (one of the 15 eligible films for this years Oscar award for best feature length documentary) I couldn't help but think of the documentary Garbage Dreams that came out last year.
Waste Land likes Garbage Dreams helps tell the story of massive city dumps, the active recycling industries, and the lives of the people.

So as a result, the basic film stills for this movie might be different, because a huge dump in Cairo (Garbage Dreams) doesn't probably look that much different than one in Buenos Aires (Waste Land).

The story of Waste Land though is unique in that it tells the story of these recyclers ("pickers") through the lens of art. The film focuses on modern artist Vik Muniz who's Brazilian roots take him back on a expansive project to do a project that will make a difference in the life of the impoverished in Buenos Aires.

As an artist Vik Muniz is a photographer who takes pictures using unique mediums for his work, and in this instance he makes larger than life portraits that are a mosaic of trash. An example of this art from this film is pictured (left), and seeing something like this come together is just absolutely amazing.

In this regard, this film reminded me of another favorite documentary, Born into Brothels that paired children of prostitutes with cameras. Here in this film, people who spent their life digging through trash were now co-creators in art that's sale would help them have not only a better future, but also give them the dignity of creation and being a part of modern art.

As a result Lucy Walker (documentary's Blindsight and The Devil's Playground as well as the Emmy nominee for her work on the children's program "Blue's Clues") has put together and directed a fantastic film for those who are either socially or artistically inclined because the artistic power of creation and changed lives is shown in an impactful way, and this documentary just creates another layer to the artful endeavor associated with this film.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Globes Nomination Feelings

Usually I'm more excited this time of year for the critics awards and especially the glimpse of award season we can glean from the exciting star studded Golden Globe nominations.

2009 had an early morning Globe post, 2008 had it's share of critics award posts, 2008 followed suit, as did 2006.

So maybe it's in that same vein I feel like I need to pontificate the golden globe nominations that came out today.

You can see a full list here. But generally the horse race isn't very exciting to me.

I suppose this year feels like the T-ball world championship and when it comes this year's award race.

It's things like the comedy/musical nominations that are just silly in a year with out much high praised comedy. I posted about this in November. Somehow RED, Burlesque, and Alice in Wonderland failed to make my list. They are nominated alongside the praised film The Kids Are All Right, and the miserably reviewed film The Tourist.

In fact these "comedies/musicals" listed did quite well with the globes. In fact these five films landed a combined 14 Golden Globe nominations, and you wonder why I'm not going ga-ga for this years nominations.

Frankly, if the films don't warrant the awards...don't have the nominations. I know it doesn't work that way...but even the LA Critics seemed to have a hard time with awards giving out plenty of praise to foreign films, even splitting the best director prize between David Fincher (The Social Network) with Olivier Assayas for his miniseries Carlos about the 1970's Venzuel revolutionary.

So excited and digging into the implications of the nominations. Not today.

I might change my mind, but generally I'm underwhelmed, and I don't blame the Globes. It's not there fault that there's not much intrigue in the races.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jesse Eisenberg: His Age & Oscar

First off Nathaniel at The Film Experience has really done some fancy calculations to create a list of the youngest best Actor nominations. His impressive post can be found here from back in October.

His post addressed the age of Jesse Eisenberg as an impediment to Jesse Eisenberg's opportunity to receive an Oscar nomination for his work in The Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg. It's interesting that when it comes to Actresses being under 30 doesn't seem to hurt at all, in fact in can help.

But of course, it's that paradox of old men and young women that we see in films and the Oscars, and so male actors under 30 have an uphill battle in the award races.

So if Jesse Eisenberg were to be nominated for an Oscar he would clock in (per The Film Experience calculations) the 10th youngest actor nomination ever. Ahead of him would be Jackie Cooper, Mickey Rooney, Mickey Rooney again, John Travolta, James Dean, James Dean again, Ryan Gosling, Orson Wells, and Heath Ledger.

Yet, as the earliest precursors of award season are announced it clearly seems that this age paradigm is a wall that Eisenberg is capable of climbing over. The National Board of Review gave him a big boost with the Best Actor award, as did the Satellite awards with a nomination and today Boston critics also awarded Eisenberg.

The New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards are just around the corner and this critical push for Eisenberg seems like a big possibility.

Jesse Eisenberg's youth seems like something that isn't going to hold him back from at least a nomination...now a win, maybe that's a different conversation.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Objections to the lessons of Santa's Naughty and Nice List

"He's making a list And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!"
-- from "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, 1934

There's definitely this concept that Santa Claus has this list that he keeps "score" with all year to determine which kids get gifts and which kids don't...or in some cases coal.

This time of year there's always the mathematician who wants to account for the speed at which Santa would have to travel in order to bring gifts around the world on Christmas eve.

Of course, rarely do those mathematicians try to consider who's naughty and who's nice. What if Santa's rules were so stringent that no one was worthy of a toy from his workshop and as a result parents filled the role of Santa by providing gifts for their children instead so that there naughty-list child wouldn't feel bad.

In fact, I guess that's one of the affirmations of Santa to consider is that getting a gift from Santa would affirm that you are "good enough" to make his list.

I must disclose that I am a scrooge when it comes to Santa Claus as part of the Christmas tradition. I find him an unappealing part of the holiday, and whether it's stockings or trips to sit on his lap at the mall, I will gladly skip the whole thing. And part of my disdain is this Naughty or Nice list.

I find this list morally objectionable because it presents an ideological concept of measurement of our "good-ness" in a way that conflicts with my own personal Christian view points of good (we're all sinners who are redeemed by God to do good).

Further not only is Santa prevent a relativistic view of good and evil, this relativistic list skews towards the fact that we are generally "good enough."

Sure, we've heard parents at the department stores threatening that Santa won't bringing them any toys because of their poor behavior, but the threats are empty. I've never heard of a parent choosing to not fill the stocking of their five or eight year old child due to their behavior.

So the threat of the naughty list, is empty, and thus we present a concept that everyone is good...except of course people who kill people and rob houses. Otherwise, everyone else is just fine.

Anyways...call my a scrooge, I can take it. But this naughty and nice list is just something that bothers me about the holiday season.
Pictured above is Tim Allen in the film The Santa Clause

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Deuteronomy as a Film, Cats & The Death of Moses

The 5th book of the Christian Old Testament, and the last book of the Torah is a book called Deuteronomy.

The name Deuteronomy means "spoken words" and comes from the first words of the book that read "These are the words..." and the title is appropriate as the book largely consist of significant sermons given by Moses before the chosen people enter the promised land.

These sermons in themselves, while certainly interesting, are not quite movie material, so I wouldn't expect a "Deuteronomy film" any time soon. The first "sermon" primarily deals with the history of the Israelites and later sermons are more instructive in terms of the law the people are to follow in the promised land. Everything from how to view divorce and murder to what foods are considered clean and unclean.

Not quite the stuff of movie gold.

That being said...Deuteronomy has shown up in pop-culture as one of T.S. Elliot's cats that shows up in his poems that in turn shows up in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats. Old Deuteronomy is a cat known for his elderly status and knowledge of the law that earns him respect as an elder in the cat community.

So maybe there's room for Deuteronomy still.

In fact, the entire book would make for a less than inspiring film, but the elder Moses certainly could have some film charm, particularly in the dramatic and emotionally and intellectually captivating way in which he dies.

In the book of Numbers there is the account of Moses disobedience in executing God's plan involving bringing forth water from a rock. As a result God will not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land (that story discussed some here as part of the Numbers post and an explanation of Moses' exclusion can be read here).

The Death of Moses

But as Deuteronomy comes to a close we see Moses death as well as the passing of authority form Moses over to Joshua, which could be a powerful scene. The images of leadership passing can often be quite moving and powerful.

Moses in these final days looks with longing towards the Promise Land with his exclusion from being a part of this place. He teaches the people of Israel a song, then he provides individual blessings to each of the tribes. He climbs up to the top of a mountain and is shown the whole land by God, and then he dies in Moab.

Generally this book lacks the narrative to be a film, but does have this powerful scene at the end.

Additionally, the tone of this book and theme says "Don't fear anything but God who has ultimate power and authority" Which is an interesting message and theme that isn't a common theme in contemporary art, film, and literature.

Posts in the series: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Image of Cats character Old Deuteronomy from Grittlebone.tripod.com.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How to Use An Amazon.com Gift Card

True confessions - but my goal is to assist you. Even at the cost of my own shame.

As embarrassing as this is to admit, the other night I spent way too much time trying to use an Amazon.com Gift Card.

This was one of those gift cards that can be bought at the grocery store and I was making a purchase and when I was checking out it didn't show a deduction in my total. I would type in the card number as directed, see a spinning circle, the screen would flash and nothing would change.

That was annoying.

I wondered if the card hadn't had time to activate yet, since it was purchased very recently. I called the number that came with activation receipt. I just got a busy number. That was weird, I assumed perhaps the world was having troubles with their gift cards at that moment.

I kept on trying every 30 minutes or so. Nothing. That was annoying.

Eventually I found another spot on the website where you could apply the funds to your account...when I did would get an annoying message about how it didn't recognize my card number, make sure the numbers weren't transposed and that the card number was not case sensitive. This was annoying because the card just had numbers on it, so the thought that it'd be case sensitive was just annoying.

And of course, there's no customer service number on the actual amazon.com card. That's annoying, too.

So like all modern solution solvers I Google searched solutions and issues. Whew, did I find a number of complaints about these cards...namely they can't be used for other gift cards, but also that people would try inserting their card number and nothing would happen.

In fact, I even found complaints on the actual Amazon.com page about their gift cards. Like everything else on amazon.com you can rate the product and there was a surprisingly high number of gift card ratings giving the card a 1 star rating, which is kind of goofy to rate a gift card...but whatever, it's Amazon. You can people's ratings and remarks here.

So after some frustration, I figured I'd wait until the next day.

But then I realized there was a silver scratchy section like you'd see on one of those game pieces and I realized the code I was inserting was not the code I needed, so I scratched at the little section to get my "claim number" as the section was labeled...and when I inserted this string of numbers (and letters...that remember, aren't case sensitive), it worked.

So I prepare this post in full disclosure of my personal feeling of foolishness but thought I would provide my own troubleshooting and how to knowledge to the web, since I know I'm not the only person who has had this problem (I know cause I've read the reviews to this product on Amazon).

Here's an image of my card with the section to scratch off below. Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

This Wretched Life: A Review

I recently watched This Wretched Life, an independent film with nine years of production under it's belt. The film deals with the concept that we all have monsters inside of us, expressed through different ways.

The film is framed through a self help-group and a psychiatrist whom the lead actor, Daniel Ball, as Chris meets with after coming to a personal low in his own life.

Frankie J. Mosca's film deals with this topic with some general ambition that is to be admired, and for a list of actors with first credits, I think some of these performers really do a fine job delivering, particularly the films lead Daniel Ball.

That being said, there were a handful of things that bothered me about this film. With a story that had some potential, I feel like Mosca's screenplay failed in that despite the variations in characters initial problems and monsters, the expression of these inner problems ultimately resulted in the same expressions of depravity, namely drugs, sex, and and explosive anger.

This uniform response takes away from the film, in a way that could be best served with some characters who served as stronger foils, because in the end this commonality led to a less than creative resolution.

Additionally, I felt like this film often went for an over-the-top style that really detracted from the film. I felt like the film was put together by a bunch of friends who through that the scenes of a mentally challenged man tearing a part a refrigerator was funny in it's over dramatisation, or that additions of a character with irritable bowels might make for some funny scenes. These inclusions and excessive performances made the film seem more amateur than it needed to.

Also, as a more general though, it seems to me that the more independent a film is, the more it feels compelled to lace the dialogue with heavy uses of profanity. I'm not sure if that's because younger film students feel that need to create an edgy dynamic with foul language, but this film is certainly no exception. It's heavy usage of swear words do not create the sense of reality, but rather create a sense that the actors are improving their lines and don't know what to say, so they revert to a string of uncreative dialogue laced with profanity.

Would I recommend this film to anyone? Probably not. I'm sure it has it's fans, but where the film shows promise in some of it's creative over arching themes, it fails in it's heavy handed portrayal and story-line that gets distracted between point A and B.

I think that Mosca probably learned a great deal in this project and if I were to make a recommendation to this film maker I would suggest that he stay focused in his story, he shows restraint in his heavy-handed dramaticism, and that he crafts a story that doesn't depend of profanity to put emotion into every line.

But I'm sure if Frankie Mosca makes another film, he will ignore this advise. The advise above is probably the same advise given the Quentin Tarantino's early work. But this film is distant from the work of Tarantino, but perhaps another attempt would show some growth.

I'm sure this is the last thing Mosca or the individuals involved in this film would want to hear, and that they write off these suggestions, because it is clear that this film is a work of love and that they feel they've put together something special. But it's almost too personal to the performers that it becomes inaccessible.

Pictured above, Daniel Ball from This Wretched Life.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Lottery

Madelieine Sackler, a graduate of Duke University, has taken on her first film project, the wonderful documentary The Lottery.

The Lottery takes the challenges of public education to a micro-level by following four families in Harlem who are hoping that their children will be selected by random draw for an opportunity to attend a state-funded charter school instead of their local zone schools.

The educational discussions that are happening across the United States, can't be painted more clearly then in a place like Harlem where the film is able to cite some startling statistics of educational failings by the New York City schools.

Typically the explanation for startling low performance has focused instead upon the education system, but rather on external forces typically associated with poverty.

At the same time, the charter schools in Harlem have bucked this information by achieving success in education that exceeds the public zone schools while dealing with a random draw of students out of the exact same population.

Instead, these charter schools are shown with some unique methods, passionate teachers, and big goals and visions that are supported by teachers and staffs, and passed along to students and families.

Yet, this film is not about what makes charter schools succeed when public schools do not, but instead paints a picture of the uphill battle that charter school's in Harlem face in their communities and among political leaders, while at the same time parents and students are being turned away from an alternative that has a higher success rate.

In following the four young kids in this film, it is likely your heart will be touched, or at least given a framework for what these families are about and the struggle that these parents find themselves in when it comes to the thought process of their children going to a school where failure has better odds over success.

My wife watched the film with me and her surprise was that the parents featured in this program really did care about their children despite their Harlem residency.

In addition to introducing you these four families, the film also introduces us and acquaints us with Eva Moskowitz a former New York City Counsel member who runs a successful charter school, The Harlem Success Academy.

Moskowitz is an activist for public education reform, and it is pretty clear that one of her biggest critiques of the public education system is the role of teacher's unions and the way that the entrance of competition into public education is threatening to a broken system. The film alleges that the teacher's unions hire organizations like Acorn to create false messages about education.

This film is well crafted, making it interesting to watch as well as showcasing some powerful scenes of human emotion and heightened political and social situations. My wife and I fell in love with the little girl Ameenah (pictured above) who's mother was trying to get her into the school. And since watching the film, we've discussed the film on a number of occasions.

The Lottery is one of 15 films eligible for a nomination and win for this years Best Documentary Oscar.

12 Thoughts on 127 Hours

1. When I've heard people describe viewing the Danny Boyle's film 127 Hours they almost always use the word intense.

2. I would probably use the word intense, the film obviously revolves around a couple key scenes which one could easily imagine with just the slightest knowledge of the Aron Rolston's story, but Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy proved their writing skills could make a two scene one character movie into an intense 90 minute ride.

3. James Franco did a great job carrying the film, I felt like his casting was not a case of star power, but actually choosing the right perform. In some ways the Franco scenes at the beginning of him as an adventurer reminded me of his Harry Osborn/New Goblin character in the most recent Spider-Man franchise.

4. I was curious about the shirt Franco wore in the film. I've found out that this is one of the concert T-Shirt from the bank Phish's 2000 tour (front and back images). Apparently Rolston was wearing a Phish T-Shirt at the time of the accident, and as I've explored the Phish T-shirt archives to find this shirt, I can see how this shirt is more subdued in it's image (including exclusion of the word Phish on the front) in comparison to the other shirts that could have been chosen.

5. Speaking of items, I have the same classic Nalgene bottle as used in the film. When I see it, it will probably remind me of this film.

6. I wonder if more people will go out hiking in Bluejohn Canyon after seeing this film.

7. I liked the concept of "the couch" in the film, and thought that it was interesting that the disappoint of missed events, hurts done to others, and selfish behavior made Franco's character sad, but that it was future loss of not knowing a potential son that motivated him to extreme action.

8. A.R. Rahman's music as a follow up to his work with Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire, was a huge success. Obviously a departure from Slumdog, but still that same energy and presence. Rahman's music is a unique product in the film market.

9. I'd expect to see Rahman's score nominated for an Oscar along with one of his original song.

10. Other worthy nominations could come from this film as well in technical categories. Including cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantel) and editing (Jon Harris). I love the way they portrayed the American west.

11. I wonder when I watch this intense movie who the demographic for this film is, and the reality is, I think it will resonate best with your young thrill seeking male, which is interesting because it's not quite your "award demographic" but I think that it's a unique niche that advertisers are interested in, so despite the slow growing box office I think that there is marketability in this film that is unique for the award potential film.

12. Would I recommend this film? It would suppose who asked and what there stomach would be for thrills, intensity, and stomach curdling moments.

Friday, December 03, 2010

National Board of Review Winners (2010)

I've shared before that I really enjoy the National Board of Review awards that kick off the award season...sometimes before some films get their big releases.

This year's awards show some major love for The Social Network, while ignoring some films like 127 Hours and Black Swan completely.

Let award season begin! Here's the winners below.

Picture: The Social Network

Top Films
Another Year
The Fighter
The King's Speech
Shutter Island
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Foreign Film:
Of Gods and Men
I Am Love
Life, Above All
Soul Kitchen
White Material

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Best Original Screenplay: Chris Sparling, Buried
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Best Ensemble:
The Town
Breakthrough Performance: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Directorial Debut: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, Restrepo
Production Design: Dante Ferretti, Shutter Island
Spotlight Award: Sylvain Chomet and Jacques Tati, The Illusionist
Special Achievement: Sofia Coppola, Somewhere
Best Documentary: Waiting For 'Superman'
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Freedom of Expression: Fair Game, Conviction, Howl

Top Independent Films: Animal Kingdom, Buried, Fish Tank, The Ghost Writer, Greenberg, Let Me In, Monsters, Please Give, Somewhere, Youth in Revolt

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Academy Award Winner Tops Grammy Nominees List!

I think it's fun to call attention to people's Oscar nomination/win status when their win is not representative of their traditional image.

Eminem, who won an Oscar for his song "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile has lead the 2011 Grammy award nomiantions today with the most nominations (10 nominations).

This is considered a comeback for Eminem who's spotlight had been diminished for awhile since his Slim Shady days.

I'm a huge Grammy non-fan so this announcement is not very high up on my interest meter (feel free to read some of my Grammy-gripes here).

That being said, when Eminem didn't show up to the Oscars in 2003 as a nominee (and winner) it was attributed to the fact that the black-tie affair was not his scene and would negatively impact his image.

So that being said, I highlight his Oscar-winning image, already embraced by the establishment, and congratulate the Academy Award winner Eminem for his Grammy nominations.