Friday, February 27, 2015

Remake Funny Face with Anne and Cate

Would love to see a remake of Funny Girl. It doesn't have to have the songs, or really the dancing. But the plot is fun and could see Anne Hathway playing the part of Jo (originally played by Audrey Heepburn) and Cate Blanchett as Maggie Prescott (originally played by Kay Thompson).

That's all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Oscar, Pop Culture, Entertainment, Art

Are the Academy Awards for the most artistic film?

Are the Academy Awards given for the most entertaining film?

Are the academy Awards passed out to the film that most resonates with pop culture?

Of course not!

Yet, at the same time there is a desire (I share it) for the films that win the major awards at the Oscars be films that is art, entertaining, and maybe even a small piece of pop culture.

I think of previous films like Forrest Gump. The Godfather, or The Silence of the Lambs, as some examples that seemed to cross into these different areas in ways this years films did not.

As I think about why this might be the case I've thought about where we gravitate for entertainment and pop culture in recent years, and in honesty it is not typically the movie theater. And if we do, it's certainly not "artful cinema." Popular movies in the theater seem to really be the action film (think this year's Furious 7 where a car chase will go through the skyscapers) and super-hero genre films. These are clearly for entertainment and are a part of pop-culture, but doesn't touch the art space (well, maybe in some technical realms, but no rational person will be arguing that Vin Diesel is Oscar bound or that the screenplay for Furious 7 deserves a second look come award season).

But there is artful work being done that is also entertaining and a part of pop-culture, but I venture to suggest that much of that is happening on a much smaller screen. Like many people, we've tuned into a number of the serial television shows from England -- we enjoy Downton Abby, Sherlock, The Hour, Broadchurch and Mr. Selfridge. We were captivated by Maggie Gyllenhaal's work in The Honourable Woman this past year. And HBO, Neflix, and cable networks are bringing challenging television, compelling stories, and talented performers to the small screen.

In many ways for this reason, in an award show like the Golden Globes, I think many people (myself included) were more drawn towards many of the television categories than the film categories this year.

I don't think Hollywood is doing itself any favors on this front with some of the film release schedules that make watching some of these films very challenging. And while there are many mediums to watch a film, not everyone utilizes every medium. Some people are going to pay for the rental on a pay-to-watch service directly from their cable provider, others go to Redbox, some watch from online services like Hulu and Netflix, and others purchase what they want to watch directly or in a digital form.

So when it's award season there's a good chance that the limited release holiday feature wasn't something you saw, and if it did release in another medium who knows if that's a medium you seek out.

The awards shouldn't chose best actress based on how well the film was distributed to a wide audience, but when a winner is selected from a film they haven't seen, don't be surprised for a little social apathy. The right winner's may have won this past year, but general people wouldn't know. And while some are going to seek out opportunities to see these award winning performances, others might not, simply based on the distribution method.

I am absolutely content with a pop-culture/award winner disconnect. Although, I think it's unfortunate that there isn't a greater interest in creating award caliber work that people (from low-brow to high-brow) might actually want to seek out and enjoy. That these winners would not just create art, but create art that is part of the collect conversation of pop-culture and entertainment.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Trying Not to Be Negative about the 2015 Oscars

The 87th Academy Award Ceremony will be held this evening, and I am trying not to me negative about them.

I love the Oscars. I do.

But 2015 is a year where none of the films have been overly exciting for me, in fact - I find it very annoying that The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film I didn't enjoy at all is nominated for 7 Academy Awards, or that Boyhood, an ambitious project (that's a little long and boring) is a front-runner going into tonight's ceremony.

The box-office speaks for this years ceremony - a ceremony where all the films with nominations (except the very successful American Sniper) have had some less-than-dynamic box offices (although some are reasonable considering the genre/audience, etc.). But these are not popular films.

I do not claim or propose that the Academy honor popular films but I also think that it's a pity that winners of tonight's awards will be names we may know but in films most haven't seen (example, Julianne Moore from Still Alice).

I'm not saying that The Academy got it wrong, or that more commercially successful films should have been in the mix (Maleficient, 22 Jump Street and Ride Along are certainly not Oscar worthy films). But that maybe this year only needed 5 best picture nominees instead of 8.

Props to tonight winners - I certainly can't say that any of the winner's tonight are in themselves undeserving, but the competition this year is just simply something I'm having a hard time getting excited about.

So if I seem "poo-pah" about things, it's not for lack of respect for these films or winners, it's just...well...not the most exciting competition this time around, and probably not the award show we will be talking about for years to come.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Fiction to Film: 2015 Edition

I'm ready! A few weeks later than normal - but ready. I'm thinking about the 2015 film calendar and looking at what novels will be adapted to the screen.

This list is really for me, as I consider what I might want read before the films come out in the theater.

It may be a foolish pursuit, as the past two years haven't been big years for successful adaptations of fiction to film. In fact, as I recently posted, not a single best picture nominee this past year came from a fiction adaptation.

That said, people have certainly complained about the caliber of film last year, maybe it part because of the absence of exceptional literary adaptations. Below is a collection of 2015 films based on fiction we can expect to see in movie theater's this year.


Bill Condon directs Mr. Holmes based on Mitch Cullins book A Slight Trick of The Mind. The film stars Ian McKellen as an elderly Sherlock Holmes solving his final crime.

Ridley Scott's likely hit The Martian based on the book by Andy Weir stars Matt Damon as an astronaut, presumed dead and left behind by his crew.

The book The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette gets a big screen adaptation in the action drama The Gunman staring Sean Penn and Javier Bardem.

Tom  Hank's will star in Tom Tykwer's adaptation of the Dave Egger's novel, A Hologram for the King, about a business man in Saudi Arabia trying to sell a technology solution to the king.

Jake Schreier directs an adaptation of John Green's Paper Towns, the popular young adults mystery novel, which stars Nat Wolff and Cara Delevigne.

Emma Donoghue's Room gets an adaptation which stars Brie Larsen, William H. Macy, and Joan Allen. About a boy who has never left a small shed since the day he was born.

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan will star in E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey.

Tom Hardy stars in the adaptation of Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 about an investigation of child murder's during the Stalin era of the Soviet Union.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in an adaptation of Michael Punke's The Revenant. The film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu takes place in the 1820s and is about a man seeking vengeance after being left for dead.

London Fields by Martin Amis is adapted into a film staring Amber Heard as Nicolo Six, a clairvoyant who begins a love affair with three men knowing that one of them will be her murderer. The film also stars Johnny Depp and Jim Sturgess. It is Matthew Cullen's directorial debut.

Pierce Brosnon and William Hurt star in the fantasy-fiction-history adaptation of Vonda N. McIntyre's The Moon and The Sun about King Louis XIV's attempt to steal the life force from a sea monster.

Consistently praised director of fiction Stephen Daldry has brought Andy Mulligan's Trash to the big screen, although it's United States run has not yet occurred. The film stars Rooney Mara, and Martin Sheen. The book is was adapted by Richard Curtis.

Ezra Miller and Mia Wasikowska star in an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's classic Madame Bovary.

Todd Field still appears to be working on directing and adapting The Creed of Violence by Boston Teran. This 1910 period piece tells the story of arms smuggling ring in Mexico.

Another period piece is Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française directed by Saul Dibb a love story in the early days of the French occupation. The love story stars Michelle Williams (French villager) and Matthias Schoenaerts (German soldier).

Also staring Matthias Schoenaerts is another classic adaptation. This time Tom Hardy's Far From The Maddening Crowd which also stars Carrey Mulligan, Juno Temple, and Martin Sheen.

Nick Hornby's adaptation of Colm Toibin's Brooklyn tells the story of Irish immigrants in New York in the 1950s. The film stars Saoirse Ronan.

The author of the 2014 hit Gone Girl, gets another adaptation. Gillian Flynn's Dark Places stars Charlize Theron and Chloë Grace Moretz.

Todd Haynes is set to direct an adaptation of the same-sex love story The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (written under the pseudonym Claire Morgan), the film is called Carol and set to star Cate Blanchett.

Derek Cianfrance will direct an adaptation of M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans about a light keeper and his wife living in Australia. Michael Fassbender stars.

Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Ejiofor will star in The Secret in Their Eyes based on Eduardo Sacheri's book. This book was the same source material for the film with the same name that won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Argentina in 2010.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper team up again, this time in North Carolina during the depression. The film is adaptation of Ron Rash's novel Serena.

Danielle Radcliffe and James McAvoy star in Victor Frankenstein, in the newest adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Susanna White is set to direct an adaptation of the John le Carre novel, Our Kind of Traitorstaring Ewan McGregor.

Jessica Chastain is set to star The Zookeeper's Wife a WWII story based on Diane Ackerman's book.

Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page star in Jean Hegland's Into The Forest about sister's in a apocalyptic world.

Rooney Mara stars in Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture about a woman in a mental hospital.

This year's Nicholas Sparks contributions include The Longest Ride and The Choice.

The second installment of Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay will be released as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part II.

The Maze Runner series continues with the second film in the series. The adaptation of James Dashner's Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials comes out in the fall.

The Divergent follow-up comes with Veronica Roth's Insurgent hitting theaters this spring staring Shailene Woodley.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Broadchurch Season 1 - Some Spoiler Free Thoughts

Broadchurch is a British Television crime drama, the first series originally aired in 2013. It is an eight episode series which is absolutely fantastic in a number of ways.

I write this post with great caution to be spoiler-free because the intrigue of Broadchurch is that it's a fantastic "who-done-it." And from the end of Episode 1 my wife and I started to play this guessing game. A game which I truly believe creator Chris Chibnall hoped we would play.

For example, in Episode 1 my wife selected a character we hadn't even formally met yet, but appeared briefly in a montage of reflective/impacted characters. We met her chosen criminal in episode 2, and as suspected he was a suspect.

At it's one of those things, were everyone is suspect. Yet, this is not just a police procedural or mystery, genres I often have a hard time getting excited about. Because Broadchuch while dedicated to solving the crime is also about telling a story.

The film's primary characters are Detectives Alec Hardy (played fantastically tepid by David Tennant), and Ellie Miller (also fantastic, played by Olivia Coleman, in her BAFTA winning role). The interesting thing to me about British TV sometimes it seems to cast differently - these actors were both so fantastic in their roles but in a leading role neither of them seem like a Hollywood star, instead they play their roles so convincingly, in ways that very human. Both the endearing and unflattering side of human.

The filming is beautiful and not just for it's Jurassic Coast setting. It has this exceptional pacing that creates a sense of timing and rhythm. The filming and editing are done in such a way that it tells you when to pause, to think, to reevaluate your thoughts, and to consider the character's positions and feelings. The filming is very much an active part of the story telling, and it works effectively from episode 1 to episode 8.

There are also some other incredibly excellent performances, but to mention names and actors almost in it's own ways opens up the door to spoilers. But there really was not a single actor in the film whom I did not find perfectly cast performing at an exceptional level. 

The overarching plot itself may not be the most unique (a murder investigation in a small town), but it doesn't really matter if there's a creative plot devise on the front end, because it's gripping, beautiful and compelling in each step of it's execution.

This past year, the show was retooled by Fox TV for American consumption as the show Gracepoint were David Tennant reprises his role. Although, while intrigued can't imagine that version being better than this, and the plot of the two versions is the generally the same in the American reiteration. 

The second series is currently airing in United Kingdom, and honestly, this is one of those shows where I can't imagine how they recapture the magic of the first series, but am eager to catch Season 2 when it is available. It has also been renewed for a third season as well.

Broadchurch is great serial television, and I can't say enough how compelling, beautiful, and well acted this show trully is -- a genuine pleasure to watch, up to the last minute. 

Where Is Zach Braff

Like a flash of lightening in your microwave when you remember you can't microwave metal, I thought tonight to myself...Where Is Zach Braff.

My wife and loved watching scrubs. We even owned the part because the show introduced me to Colin Hay and sometimes I just want to sing the song Overkill. Wait now I have to post the video - here you go:

And up to a point this show was witty, creative, and funny and Zach Braff as young Doctor Dorian was perfect for the part.

And in the middle of the long running series he directed Garden State. Actually it was over 10 years ago, which is sort of bizarre in itself. And it really seemed like Zach Braff as a director was a threat to watch. Speaking of music, Zach even won a Grammy award for another great soundtrack.

And like I said, tonight all the sudden I realized Zach had sort of disappeared from the public light. His 2014 film Wish I Was Here didn't really hit on anyone's radar and yet, I have to think there is a place for Zach Braff.

It seems to me that place may be as Zach Braff, director. But who's to say. Zach is funny, a little bit off-center and a comical story teller. Yet, it's been over 10 years since he's resonated in the way he did in Garden State or the successful early season of Scrubs.

All this leads me to ask "Where Is Zach Braff?" I want Zach Braff to be the most famous Zach.

I ask "Where Is Zach Braff" because I want to see a Zach Braff come back. And not just in syndication.