Friday, October 31, 2014

Short Notes on Whiplash, Birdman and Nightcrawler

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


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.


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.


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. A lot of the drivel Gyllenhaal's character spews reminded me of many a nighmarish conversation I had in the hallways of corporate America. It sent a shiver down my spine. 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.

The Imitation Game
Gone Girl
The Theory of Everything
Into the Woods

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

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

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

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

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

Angelina Jolie - Unbroken       
Ava DuVernay - Selma