February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here it is, 9 minutes away from my favorite night of the year. As I await this big moment, I’ve been asked a few times about my opinion on the films that have been nominated for best picture. I have had the pleasure of seeing 6 out of the 10 so I will do a quick little opinion piece while we wait/watch the show:

Black Swan: Superb filming. I am quite partial to Darren Aronofsky’s work, so excuse the bias. This is not a movie for youngsters nor the faint of heart. Very stirring, and if you will “depressing” but the movie is so beautiful. Natalie Portman gives an incredible performance. Definitely recommend if you’re into thrillers.

The Kids Are All Right: Just recently watched this. The basic theme of this movie is so heart warming – learning to put up with each other’s crap because you love them dearly and because you’re family. Annette Benning is wonderful in this film – again there are a few scenes of “adult content” so don’t watch it with your kids. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it overall.

The Social Network: I could talk for days about this movie. Everything about this film is absolutely perfect. The acting, the writing, the score, the filming, the story, the casting. Everything. Jesse Eisenberg is fabulous and I’m completely in love with him. There are scenes of this movie that make me hold my breath and tear up just because they’re so stunning. If you have not seen this movie yet put it on the queue now. You must watch it as soon as possible.

The King’s Speech: Just watched this yesterday actually. Makes you want to cry. Lovely cast that feels like family. Great, true story of overcoming a great obstacle. To be honest, the trailers made the movie seem a lot more cathartic than it actually is. Superb movie, don’t get me wrong but I was waiting for a more cathartic experience than what I got. Nevertheless – go watch it.

Inception: Great. Very confusing but if you pay great attention to it you’ll be able to follow it perfectly. Quite inventive storyline, but you should watch it with a group of people so you can talk about it after. Definitely a necessity after watching. I loved it, but it’s something you gotta be in the mood for.

Toy Story 3: You. Will. Cry. Well, you’ll cry if the entire series is a part of your life and you grew up with it. Pixar does it great no matter what. They can’t go wrong. Watch it with your kids, watch it by yourself. It’s so wonderful.

I have heard nothing but great things for 127 Hours including an astronomically stunning soundtrack. Also heard the cutting off the arm sceneĀ  was excruciatingly gruesome – but after see the entire story, you gotta watch it.

There ya have it! Enjoy the show, ladies and gents.


If I ran the Oscars…

February 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Big news, people! Academy Awards are tomorrow evening on ABC at 8pm. As I’m sure you’re quite aware I could not be more excited. Anne Hathaway and James Franco are hosting so we certainly are all in for a great show.

Let’s talk about how they are calling the awards “Oscar”. Not a big fan. Let’s just keep it “The Oscars”, please. This is also the second year they doubled the amount of best picture nominations from. In my opinion, ten nominees is just way too many. How is anyone supposed to choose a single movie out of that entire list? It’s nice to have a wide selection of different movies, but when you have to narrow it down to a single film to represent the year’s “best” – a smaller list of choices would be better. In addition to the long list of nominees, the criteria for the winner should be more objective and consistent. Often times, films win due to the politics of the Hollywood world. The Hurtlocker winning because it wasn’t Avatar, in my opinion – maybe in a spiteful sense. (Not so hot now, James Cameron, huh? – your ex-wife just ripped two academy awards out of your hands). There needs to be a more objective criteria. Let’s take a look:

The components to a “Best Picture” winner:
1. The Story. Obviously you need a good storyline to produce a good movie. You can’t write about a geeky kid getting the hot girl and expect to get an academy award nomination. Make it real, relateable, moving, inspiring, controversial (and no, geeks with hot girls is not controversy).

2. The Acting. Sure you can have a stupendous story but if you’re hiring Nicholas Cage and Mariah Carey playing the protagonists in your epic movie you can kiss your Oscar goodbye – you know, you can go ahead and kiss your invitation to the Oscars goodbye as well.

3. The Writing. No CSI: Miami one-liners, please. Smooth, intelligent, relevant writing is incredibly important to a great movie – If what the characters is saying is dull and uninventive no one will want to listen. Hire Aaron Sorkin. Problem solved.

4. The Cinematography. Make your movie pretty!! Stop using straight on shots and panning sunsets; switch it up a little, be creative with the scenes you’ve got.

5. The Music. “To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.” – Quentin Tarantino. If anyone knows the importance of music in movies it’s him. The kind of music used in a scene can make or break it. Something completely joyous can appear horrific or something absolutely frightening can look like the feel good movie of the year without the proper music.

To end today’s blog I’d like to post my predictions for tomorrow night’s winners. Yes, these “predictions” will be full of bias and hopes, but I will do my best to make this as unbiased as possible:

Best Picture: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are Alright, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, 127 Hours
Actor in Lead Role: Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Ferth, James Franco
Actor in Supporting Role: Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush
Actress in Lead Role: Annette Benning, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawerence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams
Actress in Supporting Role: Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver
Animated Feature Film: The Illusionist, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon
Directing: Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, Joel and Ethan Cohen

We’ll keep it a short list today. Tune in tomorrow night to see how my winner’s compare with the academy’s.

Seduction at its finest.

February 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Quentin Tarantino makes some of the most iconic movies in our culture. Recently he won the first ever Music + Film award for his brilliant combinations of music and picture. And not just in a music video way but in a cinematic way. There are certain songs that, if you’ve seen the movie, you think specifically of Quentin Tarantino. One song in particular, at least for me, is “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield. Take a look at how Tarantino uses it in Pulp Fiction.

A scene of complete seduction – Uma Thurman’s voice over the intercom, the slowly articulated “disco!” that she utters when John Travolta approaches the intercom – it’s unusual that Tarantino would choose this song. But how perfect is it? Completely adds to the entire feel of the scene in a way that no other song could.

Quentin Tarantino has paved a way for music’s place in cinema and has inspired many other directors’ song choices. I was watching the French film Heartbreakers yesterday (a great light hearted comedy, a few cheesy moments, but fun to watch a romantic comedy in another language). One of the opening scenes – a young, handsome man sitting in the pool lusting over the well tanned slim babe in a black bikini exit the pool in slow-mo. What song is in the background? That’s right – “Son of a Preacher Man” (in English of course). Fantastic to see Quentin Tarantino’s inspiration all over cinematic scene.

The Forgotten Melody

January 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let’s just first say that I have zero ability to come up with a decent title for any of my posts. C’est la vie, here’s some thoughts:

My favorite time of year: award season. Second up on the menu (first being the People’s Choice) is the Critics Choice Movie Awards which are on Friday, Jan. 14th on VH1 – be there. I was checking out the nominees for each award. Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Documentary, Best Song, etc. I think that my favorite award would have to be Best Score. Everyone watches a movie and forgets about the musicality of it. They hear the song playing during scenery of a pretty sunset with no dialogue. But what about the music playing during the fight between a couple or when the antagonist has an epiphany about who she really loves. It’s that exact music that heightens the experience at the apex of the movie.

Black Swan is up for this award and Darren Aronovsky does something beautiful with the score. As I’m sure you know, this movie is pretty dark; it’s a psychological thriller depicting the mental deterioration of the principle ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman). The movie is comprised mostly of orchestral music in a major key (it’s happy sounding music). There are scenes in the movie where Nina’s eyes are blood red, breathing heavily and looking absolutely menacing, but when you listen to the music it’s a cheerful symphonic tune. The combination of the two contrasting themes could give anyone chills.

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