Friday, October 31, 2014

Short Notes on Whiplash, Birdman and Nightcrawler

Here are shorts reviews of the last three movies I watched.


Whiplash

I was not looking forward to this movie. Thought it would be a hyper masculine, "what it means to be a man"story. I was burned pretty bad by a few of those. Yes I'm looking at you Lone Survivor and Out of the Furnace. And yes it was exactly that, but I loved the shit ot of it, and that's mainly because of Miles Teller. What an actor; he grounds the story in a nakedly emotional place that is a joy to watch and react to. He's a student drummer trying to become great while being bullied by his profanity spewing teacher (J K Simmons). Teller, who was also great last year in The Spectacular Now, is going to have a long career.



Birdman

I saw Birdman twice. First I wasn't impressed. I was too distracted by the intruding jazz score that I could not get into the story. I went back because I've liked every movie Alejandro G Innaritu has directed and because I suspected I might have missed something. Stories about actors are totally in my wheelhouse. And yes I liked it much better the second time around. Mainly a story of an actor in crisis about his position in the world and his legacy; its ideas about the pull between art and commerce are simplistic and nothing new. However the actors are great. And of course you've heard about the one take gimmick. That's pretty great too and definitely new and opens the story in spectacular ways allowing the scenes to breathe and the dialogue to settle. Michael Keaton in the lead is good and is matched mano a mano by an excellent Edward Norton as his nemesis. My two favorite scenes were when they both try to one up the other by showing what great actors they are. I wish the women had much to do. More women than men in this movie but they literally play : girlfriend, girfield, ex-wife, daughter and crazy old bitch critic. I enjoyed it more the second time once I accepted its heightened flights of fancy that were hard to swallow first time around. Fun but not profound.


Nightcrawler

Easily my favorite of the three. An insightful satire about the false American values of striving for success, it is also a hugely entertaining movie. The movie is bolstered by a bristiling committed performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as a man desperately needing success who finds work as a LA gonzo reporet specializing in videotaping crime scenes. He's matched by an on fire Rene Russo as a TV news reporter. They both come blazing at each other and a fantastic scene where they match wits is so good people will be talking about it after the movie ends. Nightcrawler brilliantly succeeds at what The Wolf of Wall Street tried to do last year; provide a biting critique of some of the values that make us lose our way. And in 2 hours no less; no excess with this movie.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's Always Carol

I'm thinking of changing the name of this blog to Carol: The Most Anticipated Movie in History of Cinema.

The lovely Miss Belivet has created the swooniest Gifs ever. For those anticipating, enjoy!




These images are better than I ever imagined. Looks like the movie will have the romantic scope, lush visuals (not just the actresses but also costumes and design) that I had hoped for. Swooning.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Updated Oscar Predictions



So much has happened since our last update. Toronto put Julianne Moore at the top of the best actress category. Fury opened and proved it won't compete for Oscar. Gone Girl became a HUGE hit. So let's dive in.

(All predictions in likelyhood of getting nominated).


Best Film

Fury is out, added Into the Woods since the featurette dropped today is to die for. Gone Girl soldified its spot. I'm iffy about Foxcatcher but I'll keep it in for time being.

Boyhood
Birdman
The Imitation Game
Gone Girl
Interstellar
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken
Into the Woods
Selma
Foxcatcher



Alternates - A Most Violent Year, Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Actress

Pike is rising with the huge box office of Gone Girl. Sight unseen so is Moore based on the HUGE buzz out of Toronto. Witherspoon is quiet till the movie opens in early December where she'll pick up more heat. Blunt is apparently the lead in Into the Woods. My vote - and hope - goes to Cotillard who is again fantastic in Two Days One Night.

Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year

Alternate - Marion Cotillard - Two Days One Night  Amy Adams - Big Eyes



Best Actor

Who's #4 and #5? I can't stand Eastwood and the premise of that movie is so macho and ra-ra Americana that I'm hating sight unseen so I'm not adding. Yes I have biases. I'm certain on my top 3 and despite all pundits saying it's a stacked year I can hardly find 5 to get excited about. Wishing Jake Gylenhaal or the guys from Love is Strange had a chance.

Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Michael Keaton - Birdman
David Oyelowo - Selma
Steve Carrell - Foxcatcher


Alternate  Channing Tatum - Foxcatcher    Ralph Fiennes - Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Supporting Actress

Our Grand Lady Meryl is getting nominated. For now I'm keeping her in this category since that's how she'll be campaigned but I think they'll want their favorite in the more prestigous category.

Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
Emma Stone  - Birdman
Laura Dern - Wild


Alternate -   Jessica Chastain - Interstellar Carmen Ejogo - Selma


Best Supporting Actor

Boring as usual. Who is Miyavi? Maybe getting an answer to that question will make this category interesting. 

J K Simmons - Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Ed Norton - Birdman
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice


Alternate - Miyavi - Unbroken       Robert Duvall - The Judge



Best Director

Will we have 2 women in the category for the first time? Not ready to call that yet.

Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Christopher Nolan - Interstellar
David Fincher - Gone Girl
Alejandro G Innaritu - Birdman
Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game


Alternate - Angelina Jolie - Unbroken       Ava DuVernay - Selma

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fall Expectations Are High But Tempered

The Fall movie season is always eagerly expected because of the plethora of exciting options it usually provides. As the Toronto Film Festival unspools we think of all the movies we are eagerly expecting.


Been Waiting So Long We're Kinda Over It
Foxcatcher
We were excited a year ago. The raves came way back in May from Cannes. I guess we'll see it.


Cautiously Optimistic Because of Source Material
Into the Woods
Stephen Sondheim. Meryl Streep. Emily Blunt. Anna Kendrick. Christie Baranski. Billy Magnusson. Those songs. It would be our most anticipated but unfortunately we've seen Nine.


Career That Might Jumpstart
Jack O'Connell in '71
Starred Up. Unbroken. '71. Three major movie just might make a movie star. Two of them already seen with critical kudos, he's on his way.


Career Possibly Reinvigorated
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
The marketing has been aces. The campaign to tell us about his commitment and weight loss has already started. He's been on a roll of edgy interesting movies. We have faith.


Suspect Because of Terrible Trailer
Men, Women and Children
It seems it is trying to say something profound about the way we live now. Only that something looks and sounds very obvious. Hoping for the best but our gut says it's a turkey.

Suspect Because Tim Burton Has Been Lost For Years
Big Eyes 

Maybe Amy Adams will save it. Hoping for the best.


Known Entity But Still Eagerly Awaited
The Imitation Game 
We've seen it. It's fantastic. We love Benedict Cumberbatch in it. Who knew we'd ever say those words? We can't wait to see it again. Mostly we can't wait to discuss it over and over. The conversations are going to be good.

Meh Feel We've Seen Before
The Equalizer 
It looks like every other Denzel movie. Get that Fences adaptation going. And hire Viola Davis as your co-star.

Most Eagerly Awaited
Birdman 
The stellar reviews. Throwing about the "M" word. As in "masterpiece". We can't contain ourselves.


Wish It Was Opening This Fall
Carol
Not many movies starring women. This would've been the ultimate with some of our best actresses. As we mentioned before this might be our most anticipated movie ever.

What are you most excited about this Fall? What do you think of the movies we've mentioned? Agree? Disagree? Tell all in the comments.

Friday, August 29, 2014

First Stab at Oscar Nominations

As the Telluride Film Festival kicks off in Colorado, here is my stab at first guess Oscar Nominations. Presented in likelyhood to be nominated.


Best Film

Boyhood
Birdman
The Imitation Game
Gone Girl
Foxcatcher
Interstellar
Selma
Unbroken
The Theory of Everything
Fury

Alternates - A Most Violent Year, Into the Woods, Grand Budapest Hotel


Best Actress

Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Jessica Chastain - The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Amy Adams - Big Eyes
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods

Alternate - Julianne Moore - Maps to the Stars


Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Steve Carrel - Foxcatcher
Michael Keaton - Birdman
David Oyelowo - Selma
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything

Alternate  Channing Tatum - Foxcatcher


Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emily Blunt - Into the Woods
Emma Stone  - Birdman

Alternate - Laura Dern - Wild       Carmen Ejogo - Selma


Best Supporting Actor

Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Ed Norton - Birdman
Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice
Tom Wilkinson - Selma
J K Simmons - Whiplash

Alternate - Robert Duvall - The Judge

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Birdman walks Into the Woods

Blunt with James Corden in Into the Woods
These two movies have nothing in common except they both dropped trailers today. And they star two actresses we are very fond of around these parts and who we think have yet to show their best. We are talking about charm machines Emily Blunt and Emma Stone.

Blunt is first up. We fell in love hard after The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Eight years later that remains our favorite performance of hers. Yes she was a charismatic and believable action star just this summer in Edge of Tomorrow (2014). But no movie has yet built on that promise in Prada. She's the number #1 reason we are excited about Into the Woods (2014). And that's a tall order since we consider Sondheim and Streep Gods. She's not in much of this teaser trailer, but we remain optimistic since The Baker's Wife is a plum part.



And now it's time for another lovely lady, Emma Stone.

Love this shot of Stone in Birdman
Stone has also not delivered on the promise of her early work in Easy A (2010). But at least she has become a global superstar thanks to the Spiderman reboot. She even made us watch those 2 movies just to see her. Stone is the type of actress whose snappy line delivery, warmth and chemistry with co-stars (she sizzles opposite Andrew Garfield) makes us wish Billy Wilder was still alive. Give us that The Apartment (1960) remake we don't need but would love if it starred Stone.

We are hoping her 1-2-3 punch of collaborating with Woody Allen, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Cameron Crowe will gave her the showcase she deserves. Well #1 didn't quite work out. While she was charming and got her own way with Allen's lines in Magic in the Moonlight (2014)the movie was minor Allen at best. Still there's his next movie in 12 more months. #3 was postponed to next year. So Mr. Inarritu our hopes are on your very capable shoulders.

Below is the second trailer from Birdman  and Stone gets to yell at Michael Keaton. Reportedly she's playing his recovering addict daughter. So maybe she gets to show range? Maybe she even gets her first Oscar nod? Hopes are high over here.




We have faith in both Blunt and Stone. Do you? Are you looking forward to these movies? What did you think of the trailers? Tell all in the comments.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Few Stray Thoughts on Get on Up

Boseman as James Brown


Opening this week is the James Brown biopic Get On Up (2014) from the The Help's Tate Taylor. Now I loved The Help and thought it a throwback to 1940s "women's movie" that I love so much. So many actresses, actressing. I was in heaven. Here are a few things I had in mind after catching Get on Up.


- Chadwick Boseman is great as James Brown. Ferocious and committed. He's got the moves and he's got the spirit. This should be a star making role. While it's Brown we hear singing, Boseman brings the energy and it never looks like he's lip syncing. He will definitely contend for a Golden Globe in the comedy/musical category and be in the long list for an Oscar but I think will not be nominated.

- The movie is very entertaining. While the jumping in chronology was irritating at first the story moved fast propelled by Brown's songs and Boseman's performance that after a while I didn't mind.

- While the movie was entertaining I don't think it will be as popular as The Help. It's a bit more idiosyncratic and less emotional. But nice to see Tate Taylor stretching and trying something more than a straight through biopic.

Davis as Brown's mother, Susie

- Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis have tiny parts. Spencer's is tinnier. At least Davis' character gets an emotional arc and a fantastic scene with Boseman later in the movie. Both of them raise the emotional stakes and it pays off in drama. And no Davis doesn't outright win the battle, Boseman is her equal so we are the winners.

- The other actor who shines besides Boseman is True Blood's Nelsan Ellis as Brown's confidant Bobby Byrd. It is a subtle sweet performance fitting the second fiddle role Byrd played in Brown's life.

- The movie does well with historical context. Fitting in Vietnam War and Dr King's assassination into Brown's story in a linear illuminating way.

- Brandon Smith appears in a couple of scenes as Little Richard. He brings with him a jolt of energy and a wild sexiness. I wanted more!


All in all an enjoyable couple of hours. Did you see it yet? What did you think? Are you planning on catching it? Tell all in the comments.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler


Wow. The marketing for Nightcrawler (2014) is genius. Look at that poster. Fantastic.  Retro, modern and enticing all the way.

And that wasn't even the first piece of marketing that we saw. This past weekend a one of kind clip of Jake Gyllenhaal in character looking all scrawny and desperate while trying to find a job, surfaced. Check it out below. "Hard Worker Seeking Employment" indeed!!




And riffing on the same theme we get the first teaser. Astonishing. Good job marketing people.



Everyone is talking Reese Witherspoon comeback this year. Rightly so with Wild and Inherent Vice coming later this year. But the biggest comeback story might be her ex, Jake. He has been steadily choosing excellent showcases for his talent the last couple of years. I loved both End of Watch (2012) and Prisoners (2013), liked Enemy (2013) but he was great in all three. Could Nightcrawler be the one that finally brings him back to bonafide stardom. Judging by this evidence it just might be. He's come a long way from Prince of Persia. We want the Brokeback Jake!!

What do you think? Tell all in the comments.