Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

SAG Nominating Committee? MOI?!?

Yes, folks! I have been given the honor of nominating the following categories for the SAG awards:

Best Actor

Best Actress

Best Ensemble

Best Picture

Because of this, I am now getting absolutely bombarded with “For Your Consideration” mail and invitations (makes me feel all SPECIAL, doncha know?) for films released this year.  And of course, what kind of Geeky Cinephile would I be if I didn’t comment on what I’m seeing?

So!

This is a separate page devoted entirely to my mini-reviews of films I’ll be checking out over the next couple of months.  Enjoy!

1.  The Master (Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern.  Directed by His Awesomeness, Paul Thomas Anderson).  Viewed at the Laemmle Theatre in Santa Monica, CA.

How wonderfully wonderful mc-wonderful-son that THIS is my first film to see!! And of course, I’ll get right to the point and say without a SHRED of a doubt that I’ll be nominating Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor.  Yep, before I’ve even seen any other films.  I’m that certain that no one is going to TOUCH this performance.  If you haven’t had your head under a large boulder, you’ll have already heard fervent whisperings about Mr. Phoenix in this film, and folks–I’m here to tell you it’s all true.  You do not take your eyes off of him.  I think the only thing that disturbs me in terms of nominating him is that it doesn’t feel like he’s acting.  He IS Freddie Quell.  As for the film itself, I loved it, I sunk deeply into it (like I do with all of PT Anderson’s films), aided greatly by the rather primitive sounding score from Johnny Greenwood, and it was cinematically arresting (again, as I feel all of PT Andersons’s films are).  Philip Seymour Hoffman is at his sweaty-faced, ruddy best in the role of Lancaster Dodd (who is NOT, by God, NOT based at ALL on L. Ron Hubbard!! I’m warning you…!), and Amy Adams turns in a capable performance as Peggy, the rather severe wife of Dodd, but I do feel we’ve seen this character before with her, in Doubt, so I wasn’t bowled over by her here.  (Amy, you still my girrrrrl, tho! Ain’t no thang but a chicken wang!)  WATCH THIS FILM.

2.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Starring Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup.  Directed by John Madden) Viewed by DVD sent to my home.

Okay, okay.  I’m throwing the bullshit flag here.  Yes, the cast is British Acting ROYALTY, and yes it’s shot beautifully, and yes it’s in India, and yes the costumes and colors are lovely.  But I want those 124 minutes BACK.  Now, damn it, NOW!!! This was the most saccharine-sweet, formulaic, piece of old band-aid that I have seen in a long time.  I’m sure your Gran will like it.  Wait, that is not giving ol’ Gran enough credit.

3.  The Impossible (Starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Tom Holland.  Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona) Viewed at the Harmony Gold Theater in West Hollywood.  Screening was followed by a Q&A with Naomi Watts, Tom Holland, and Juan Antonio Bayona.

This film is based on the true story of the Belon family, who survived the Tsunami on 12/26/04.  I came into this screening thinking it was going to be a bit Lifetime Movie of the Week.  I love, love, love Naomi Watts, although I think at times she can get off a little too much on snotting while she’s crying (don’t even get me STARTED on Funny Games!!!), and I was curious about the story here.  A tragedy like this is absolutely incomprehensible to most of us, and that is the beauty of film, after all–it allows us to viscerally go where otherwise we might never go.  (Books too, yes, but that’s someone else’s blog.)  I also had enjoyed, but not loved, Orphanage, which was also directed by Bayona, and I was eager to see more from him.  So I had medium-to-low expectations, but was expecting to be entertained.

I was pleasantly surprised, whaddya know?

Largely, this is still a bit been-there-done-that, but it is saved by a few things (not the least of which is my striving to stay un-cynical when it comes to human tragedy).  The disaster scenes are absolutely terrifyingly real.  One of the girls sitting in front of me jumped when she first saw the wave bearing down on all the resort.  During the Q&A we learned that the actors being pummeled underwater was not done via CGI but rather done in a large 15×60 meter tank with a strong current.  Let me interject here–God bless folks who still use good ol’ fashioned, REAL special effects–it is just better, folks.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.  Especially when it comes to horror films, but again–don’t even get me started! Later some of the water was digitally added, but when you’re seeing Naomi Watts fight the water–she’s really fighting it.  And that really adds so much to your experience as a film watcher.  The sound was also INCREDIBLE, with Bayona really keeping the tension up prior to the tsunami hitting by using lots of unexpected booms from things like the plane taking off–it kept you keyed up, waiting for the bad thing to inevitably happen.  Bayona also uses underwater shots so effectively in terms of making you feel claustrophobic.  Between the muddy water swirling all around you on the big screen to the sound of water thrashing you, you really feel as though you’re right there, fighting for your life.  Lastly, the performances, as I’m sure you can imagine when dealing with the likes of the Queen of Pain herself (I say that with the utmost respect) were spot-on, including from newcomer Tom Holland.  It felt real, it felt tragic, and I myself was swept away a bit here and began crying quite a few times.  Overall, I recommend it as a “disaster flick” with a bit more of an edge, and I definitely recommend it as a tear-jerker.

P.S. At one point before the film started, I said to Paul (who hated this movie, by the way–he felt it was ENTIRELY a Lifetime movie of the week, and he’s normally the softie of the family! Go figure. ) “Naomi loves to snot a lot, so I’m sure she’ll totally be on it with something like this.” And she delivered, but that’s not the best part.  Later, during the Q&A, Naomi herself laughingly described “snotting all over” her co-star, the adorable and talented Tom Holland.  See? She knows it.  And now she knows I know it.  Ha! Victory is mine!! I shall take over the world now!!

Yeah, I’m gonna go have some lunch.  Think my blood sugar is dropping.

4.  Moonrise Kingdom (Starring Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, & Bill Murray.  Directed by Wes Anderson) Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

First off, I want to apologize to Wes Anderson for not watching this film in the theater.  If any director deserves a theatrical viewing, it is he.  However, I am getting buried under screening invitations, and there are a few with Q&As that I REALLY want to attend (ex. Lincoln, with a Q&A featuring Daniel Day-Lewis!!), so I’m trying to be a bit choosy there.  I did watch it in glorious widescreen on my good-sized TV, so I was able to get a good read on his framings.

So! With that said, my review: really liked it, but had a lot of mixed feelings as well.  Good points: Anderson’s aesthetic is astounding.  I wish I could freeze frame the entire movie and just stare at each shot for at least…3 minutes.  His attention to detail is legendary–he’s the most talented, anal-retentive  individual I’ve ever seen.  For me, his films are a joy to watch, truly.  I get giggly and nostalgic.  His FILMS are nostalgic, but at this point I’m getting nostalgic for his films, if that makes sense.  They’re carving their own path in film history, and I’m totally along for the ride.  He is the kind of filmmaker I aspire to work with one day, as do many other actors.  Who wouldn’t? Speaking of which, the acting is, for the most part, wonderful as well, and classically Anderson–adults acting like children and children acting like adults.  The story is charming, charming, charming.  Roman Coppola wrote the script, along with Anderson, and I found the dialogue hilarious.  There’s also something magical in Anderson’s films–there’s all this activity going on in every scene, and it can look random, but then you see it as a whole and it makes perfect, chaotic sense.  (One of my FAVORITE scenes is where Cousin Ben (Jason Schwartzman) tells Sam & Suzy to “go think about it by that trampoline.” It wouldn’t do it justice to describe the ensuing shot, but trust me–it’s genius. Watch it.)

I guess the one problem I have is the fact that in Moonrise Kingdom you’ve got a whole lot riding on these two young actors, and I’m just not sure they’re completely up to the task.  The kid playing Sam (Jared Gilman) can get a bit too attached to sucking in the sides of his mouth and calling it a day in terms of showing his emotions, and Kara Hayward, although doing an admirable job of trying not to move her face or blink one iota (again, classic Anderson delivery), can sometimes really look like she’s “acting.”

“But they’re kids!” you shriek, “How can you be so judgmental of KIDS acting?!?!”

Or I dunno, maybe you hate kids and don’t care?

Either way, I agree.  I don’t place the blame on them.  I place it with the director.  I think it was VERY ambitious to give the entire weight of the film (okay 75%) to these two children, especially when you’re talking about an acting style that is so difficult to do.  Imagine delivering “matter of fact” and “deadpan” in a million different ways.  Not easy, eh? Exactly.  These young actors did very well, considering.  I’m just not sure it worked.

All in all, and despite appearances, I did THOROUGHLY enjoy this film, and I eagerly await the next Wes Anderson work of art.  I highly recommend it, and I especially enjoyed the HILARIOUS bonus material in the DVD.  That’s one thing ya can’t get in the theater I guess!

5.  To Rome With Love (Starring everyone, as per usual when directed by Woody Allen) Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

This latest Woody Allen film follows around several people as they go about their business in Rome.  Can you hear me yawning as I write this first line? I really wanted to like this movie.  Then I wanted to really dislike this movie.  At least then I wouldn’t feel so lukewarm, which is the best I can muster either way, and which for me is akin to the kiss of death in a film.  I feel Woody Allen deserves better from me than, “Meh.”  But I’m sorry Woody–that’s all I got.  The predicaments were the usual Allen marital infidelities, the storylines were muddy and far-fetched, and the writing was so-so.  On the good side, Fabio Armiliato’s voice brought me to tears (in fact, seeing him sing in the shower would be my primary reason for ever watching this again).  On the bad side, there’s something stale about this film.  It’s like a parody of a classic Allen film.  I don’t know if it’s the actors or the writing, but it felt like the entire ensemble was trying too hard to be “Allen-esque.” Yes, I invented that just now.  Haven’t seen Midnight in Paris, but I’m hoping it’ll leave a better taste in my mouth than this.

6.  Bernie (Starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, & Shirley MacLaine .  Directed by Richard Linklater) Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

Typing this now, I just realized I have NO idea how to spell McConaughey.

Just sayin’.

So! Bernie! The new Jack Black dark comedy! See Jack as you’ve never seen him before–AN ACTOR!!! He’s a serious actor, folks!! No, SERIOUSLY!!!

That’s what the DVD special features keep telling me, at least.

It’s a bit hard for me to judge this film without speaking out of both sides of my mouth.  On its own, as a dark comedy, I think it’s a pretty decent film.  There were definitely some good moments for Jack Black, and the rest of the cast was on point; however, the Christopher Guest docu-style is getting overused now.  It’s losing the funny.  It just is.  I implore Hollywood to give this a rest for about 10 years.  So yeah, it was funny, yet dark–the usual requirements for a dark comedy.

But this is based on a true story.  And when I figure that into the equation, it starts to lag like Byron’s clubbed foot.  In order to make this story really work, the audience MUST love and trust Bernie as much as the townsfolk do.  And it’s impossible to fully trust and love Jack Black unconditionally.  He “acts” as though he is constantly nudging someone when the camera’s not facing him, elbowing them and saying, “Watch what I do with this!” That shifty-eyed, sarcastic glint in his eye comes through immediately and forcefully.  Paul (who HATED this movie, by the way) and I both exclaimed at the same time when Bernie befriends the widow Nugent (MacLaine), “Oh, he’s trying to scam her.”  But even though it’d be okay for that to tickle the back of your mind, as it does with Danny Buck, the D.A. (McConaughey), the whole point of the film is that Bernie would NEVER do that–he’s just one of those saintly folks that cracked somehow.  I don’t believe Jack Black’s Bernie has innocent intentions one bit.  And it’s because he’s smirking the whole first half of the film.  Sorry, Jack.

7.  Lincoln (Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones.  Directed by Steven Spielberg, Written by Tony Kushner)  Viewed at the Silver Screen Theater in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.  Screening was followed by a Q&A with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Jared Harris, Tim Blake Nelson, Gloria Reuben, and James Spader.

Folks! We have a contender for Best Picture! Yeah, yeah, I know, you knew it, didn’t you? Well, you were right.  And you know what else? We have here a VERY strong contender for Best Supporting Actor (Spader or Jones), Best Actor (Guess who?), Best Supporting Actress (Field), Best Ensemble, Best Director, AND Best Screenplay (King Kushner).  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  The dialogue is absolutely exquisite–razor sharp and beautiful at the same time–Kushner rocks.  Day-Lewis IS Lincoln, no bones about it.  (I’m going to find it hard to choose between him and Phoenix, I gotta tell you, although my guess is that I’ll still go with Phoenix–just too crazy good, that boy.)  I wish, wish, WISH that I was voting on the Best Supporting category, as I would heartily cast my vote for James “the man” Spader.  I have a bad feeling that Tommy Lee Jones is going to get that nomination, and although I think Jones is wonderful in his role, I think he’s getting all the good one-liners, which makes you popular with audiences (and critics) but doesn’t mean you did anything special as an actor.  Spader was absolutely delicious as the robust, wily, wise-cracking slob, Bilbo.  So often we’ve seen him in weedy, snarky, prim uptight, snake-in-the-grass roles, and this time we get to see him as something totally opposite from this.  He is hilarious, he is wholly IN that body, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and I urge the voters who DO get this category to just…well, just do as I say and vote for Spader.  🙂 Pretty please.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with the cast, and once again Spader stole the show, making us all laugh every time he even so much as moved.  Day-Lewis was a revelation for me, and I now have even more admiration (and okay, a massive crush) for this legendary actor.  We all know he’s a chameleon (Good Lord, to see him go from Plainview in There Will Be Blood to Lincoln is just jaw-dropping as it is), but as a person as well, he is just marvelous.  Every time he spoke we all got quiet and hung on his every word.  His answers were thoughtful, intelligent, insightful, humble, and just appropriate on every level.  Sigh. Dreamy, dreamy man.  I think Paul had a crush on him too afterwards.  😉

Final word–definitely see this.  Not earth-shattering, but a solid contender.  And as a wee gift, I present you with pictures!

8.  The Paperboy (Starring Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, & Macy Gray.  Directed and written by Lee Daniels, based on a novel by Peter Dexter).  Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

I realized, while hashing this out afterwards with my trusty sidekick, Paul, that I kept saying the same thing over and over:  “I never thought…”

So why not roll with that? Keep it simple.

I never thought…

…Zac Efron could actually act.  He really surprised me here, and I sooooo wanted to hate him, say he’s miscast, say he’s just a Disney weenie.  But nope–he did a really, really solid job.

…John Cusack could EVER be ugly and repulsive.  But he is.  He really, really is.

…Nicole Kidman would just start throwing out every old trick in her bag.  I was excited at first when I heard her speak with a luscious Southern accent (which she nailed, by the way), but she quickly fizzled for me, aside from the absolutely disgusting, fascinating masturbation scene between she and Cusack.  They even had her dancing in the rain, seducing Zac Efron (Hello, To Die For, anyone?).  She’s always excellent, but I found myself saying, “C’mon, Nicole! Been there, done that!” And…I hate to say this, but the collagen fish lips were REALLY distracting at times, especially when I’m such a fan, so I know her face…and that just ain’t her exquisite natural face.

…Macy Gray would do so well.  She’s an absolute natural.

Okay, I’m out of those.  Back to normal writing! No more lazy!

I have to say that it was a decent film, but I wasn’t blown away.  It was raw, it was dirty, it was scuzzy, it was blindingly bright with 1960’s colors, it was well-acted, everyone was appropriately sweaty and bloody, but the key issues are that it felt schizophrenic and the sub-plots tended to overlap and overshadow the main storyline, so much that I’m not sure what the point was at all.  You have this crime thriller–with the journalists trying to expose the unfair conviction of Hillary (Cusack), and somehow that all gets lost (I’m trying not to include any spoilers here, and it’s hard) in the muck.  The Florida swamp muck.  Maybe a longer film would’ve served the novel better? It felt rushed, at any rate, and the plot becomes the sacrificial lamb over style and just…grossness.

I need to take a shower now, after watching this film.  That’s a good thing, I suppose.  Always been a tone gal.

9.  The Life of Pi (Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, and a fabulous CGI tiger.  Directed by Ang Lee.)  Viewed in 3D glory at the Arclight Theate in Hollywood.  Screening was followed by a Q&A with Ang Lee, Suraj Sharma, and David Magee.

Lucky number 9! I love this book, so I was naturally excited to see this film, especially as I’m still pretty new to 3-D experiences, and this one promised to be a doozy (Zebras and Tigers and Whales, oh my!!).  It was indeed wonderful.  In a word.  Of course it doesn’t quite capture the mood of the book, but it comes pretty darned close, and actually it carves out its own territory in terms of how it makes you feel.  Listening to the Q&A, Lee wanted to tell a story about the wonder of storytelling, and the book does too, but the book to me is far more spiritual, and thus deserves a different place.  It’s nice to be able to take the two mediums of this story, independent of one another, and like them both–without forgetting that they are one and the same.  That’s rare when it comes to a film adapted from a beloved novel.  It’s perhaps that I adore Ang Lee so very much when it comes to his sensibility in his craft–this man is such an incredible genius at delicately weaving together an unforgettable experience, no matter what the genre (and no, I haven’t seen The Hulk yet, so shush all ye naysayers, lest ye be judged!)  I don’t want to take away from YOUR experience when you watch this (and I highly recommend you do), so I cannot give much away, but I will say two things: 1) the CGI tiger (something I was dreading, as I normally HATE CGI created creatures) was immaculate, truly, and 2) that I prefer the story about the animals.  In the movie, the book, and in life.

P.S.  Fun fact–Suraj Sharma has never acted before! His brother, a relatively accomplished actor in India, was auditioning, and the casting director suggested Suraj try out too.

10.  Killer Joe (Starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon, and Thomas Haden Church.  Directed by William Friedkin.) Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

Gosh, is it just me, or is Matthew McConaughey one busy motherf***er this year!? He should get an award for most films starred in for the 2012 season.  I have about a dozen screeners sitting on my coffee table right now, and Paul and I judiciously sifted through them all last night and decided to give this new William Friedkin project a test drive.  It promised “a killer performance by Matthew McConaughey,” (Betsy Sharkey, LA Times), and “…fierce and ferociously funny.” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)  Cast looks great, director looks great, story sounds interesting.  Let’s do it!

Cut to the end credits, with Paul and I sitting there, faces screwed up.

That…was a dog’s…dinner.

The dialogue was amateur, the cinematography was unremarkable, the story was lukewarm and pretty predictable…so what does that leave us with? Okay, the acting was very good.  The sexual content was very in-your-face, and the violence were shockingly brutal.  That’s fine, but is that a film? I’m even one to go for tone over all other things–anybody that knows me knows I don’t need a plot–but there’s not even THAT redeeming factor here.  It was a mishmash.  I felt (apologies in advance to all the very talented folks who worked on this film) like I was watching a student film with a really good budget, especially at the beginning of the film when we’re being introduced to the characters.  It got better from there, thank God, but not that much.  The scene where Killer Joe (McConaughey) supposedly gets off by Sharla (Gershon) sucking a drumstick between his legs is just ridiculous.  I liked the brutality of that scene, but I feel like it was VERY overblown.  A killer explaining in a controlled, silky voice what their victim is going to do next is far more terrifying than someone getting sweaty and out of control, yelling like an evangelist.

And Roger Ebert–wow, you’ve come a long way, man.  You BLASTED David Lynch for years about Blue Velvet.  I will quote you here:

Rossellini is…publicly embarrassed  by being dumped naked on the lawn of the police detective…she is asked to portray emotions that I imagine most actresses would  rather not touch. She is degraded, slapped around, humiliated and  undressed in front of the camera. And when you ask an actress to endure  those experiences, you should keep your side of the bargain by putting  her in an important film…What’s worse? Slapping somebody around, or standing back and  finding the whole thing funny?” (Ebert, 9/19/86)

And yes, he was commenting on David Lynch’s supposed cowardly choice to keep “getting in between” the audience and the dark material.  But in interviews afterwards he continued to harp on Blue Velvet’s needless violence towards women.  But Gina Gershon showing her bush within the first 2 minutes of the film, getting her face bashed into a bloody pulp, and having to perform oral sex on a chicken leg while her family watches is “expertly directed…written with black humor…One hell of a movie.”??  The two films don’t EVEN compare, Ebert.

I DO think this film is skating a bit on its shock factor.  And that does NOT impress me much.  Irreversible, (Gaspar Noe) one of the most gory, shockingly brutal films I have ever seen, nevertheless has artistic merit, despite bad dialogue and an overwrought need to keep pounding the audience with tragedy.  This film was just a wanna be of something.  What, I have no idea.

11.  Celeste & Jesse Forever (Starring Rashida Jones & Adam Sandberg.  Directed by Lee Toland Krieger.)  Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

I began this film with a bad attitude.  You know the one.  You sit there, arms folded, and you say to the screen, “Alright, go ahead.  IMPRESS me.”  And that is the worst place to come from as an audience member.  The film will usually fail this test.  It’s all about your mind-set.

Which is exactly why this was the film to watch during that mind-set.

The main message of the film (thankfully delivered in a light-handed fashion) was that life can be shitty, and there will be many events that occur that you cannot change, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to change yourself to accommodate these obstacles and be happy.  Isn’t that nice? 🙂

Seriously, though–I was impressed here.  US magazine raved about this film, and while I loooooove US for its gossip, when it comes to their film reviews I pretty much go the opposite of what they say.  For instance, they gave Lincoln 2.5 stars and moaned that it was a “war movie without war scenes.” US film critics: you are morons.  It’s not a “war movie.”  And there ARE actually two war scenes.  Did you actually watch it, or were you texting your friend the whole time about how you can’t wait to hit BOA afterwards?? JEEEsus!!

But I digress.

So.  US magazine liked this film, ergo I was going to dislike it.  But slap my ass and call me Nelly! I was wrong.  Jones (who co-wrote the script with Will McCormack) turns in a lovely, nuanced performance as Celeste, and manages the tricky task of making you fall in love with her and root for her, while all the while wanting to strangle her for being so stupid.  There are unexpected turns with the plot, the dialogue is natural and yes, witty (which can be the kiss of death, I know, but it’s not overly so here).  The camera work was interesting, as was the framing–I actually found myself admiring the shot set-ups (nerd alert!!!), so hats off to the director and the cinematographer (David Lanzenberg).  I also feel like this film is relevant, especially for folks that are perhaps starting to realize they’re not youngsters anymore, myself included.  This probably won’t win any awards, except for possibly the script, but it’s a small gem all the same.  Well done, well done.  My arms are uncrossed and open.

12.  Quartet (Starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connoley, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, & Michael Gambon.  Directed by Dustin Hoffman.) Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

Maybe I’d just had too many glasses of the ol’ bubbly, but I REALLY LIKE this film.  It’s the debut directing project for Dustin Hoffman, and first off, I’d like to congratulate him.  The  film has a quirky and efficient pacing, very economic, and yet Hoffman is still able to tell the story in a lush, poetic way.  That is possibly the hardest task for a director.

Quartet features ensemble acting at its finest–everyone is on the same page, everyone is ferociously hitting their beats (which works on another  level, as this film is about retired musicians), and the editing and camera work are right there with it, cutting beautifully between the subtle looks or interjected phrase, bouncing around rapidly until you can feel a bit dizzy with the virtuosity of it all.  What is even more remarkable is that many of the cast are famous British musicians, not actors, yet quite frankly they could have fooled me.  (That was another lovely choice by Hoffman, by the way, especially during the end credits, when you see photographs of these musicians and performers in their prime.) This film could quite possibly win my vote for Best Ensemble.  Just stunning work.

The acting is superb, the dialogue is razor sharp.  It only veers towards hokey a couple of times, which is the danger when screenwriters try to make a “charming” film about old-age pensioners.  THIS is the film that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel wants to be.  Oddly enough, Maggie Smith is in both of them, although I’m sure she would prefer this one more.  For once, she is VULNERABLE.  Maggie Smith!! Playing a vulnerable character who CRIES and REGRETS!!??” Wow.  And of course, she’s wonderful, as she always is.  Billy Connolly will no doubt get much of the critical acclaim as the wise-cracking Wilf, and Tom Courtenay is heartbreaking as Reggie.  But the standout for me in this film was Pauline Collins.  Her character (Cissy) is so spot-on, eccentric, sweet, and loveable that you come to look upon her almost like your dotty old Aunt that you’re very protective of.

My advice–bypass the Exotic Hotel and head straight for The Beecham House, a retirement home for gifted musicians.

13.  Compliance (Starring Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy.  Directed and written by Craig Zobel.) Viewed via DVD sent to my house.

SPOILER ALERT!!! Okay, I just wrote a very short review and then had to go back and delete it after 10 minutes.  Because I was dead wrong.  I watched this movie and thought, “This is ridiculous.  There is NO WAY this all happened.  Based on a true story my ass…”  Wait, I thought isn’t the right phrase.  I RANTED.  I was FURIOUS.  The reason for this is because, during the film, when Paul and I were rolling our eyes, I googled the premise of this film on my phone and saw brief snippets about prank callers forcing managers at fast food chains to strip search their employees.  However, the spankings and the sexual assault…I was thinking, “Oh my GOD, this is RIDICULOUS!!”

Well slap my ass and call me Nelly.

It is totally true.  Every ridiculous bit of it.  I just googled more thoroughly and found every detail in this film to be completely in line with what happened in real life.  So I’ll just do a maaaaajor backpedal here.  The camerawork was interesting, I enjoyed the tone and pace of the film.  The acting was spot-on.  I cannot believe that this happened.  I just cannot BELIEVE that this happened.

Update: December 13, 2012

I got a bit behind as screeners began piling up next to my TV, but I was able to get a few more viewings in before the deadline.  I’ll give mini, mini reviews of my final films:

Skyfall: Everyone was prepping me to hate this.  I thought it was great–entertaining and gave me my Bond fix.  Maybe when it comes to Bond films, I don’t judge it based on other films.  I just like hanging out with Bond.  So if he’s kicking ass (check!) and he’s a good Bond (check!), and it’s following the Broccoli formula (check!), I’m happy.

Ginger & Rosa: The new Sally Potter disappoints.  The cinematography is lovely, the acting from Fanning is lovely, but the other characters are a bit cliche, and it doesn’t have that Sally Potter special-ness…whatever magic it is that she usually brings.

Silver Linings Playbook: Classic O’Russell.  Loved it.  It was funny, it was entertaining.

Hitchcock: Hmmm….I liked Mirren and the ensemble in this, but I’m not feeling Anthony Hopkins here.  He seemed like he was struggling.  The film itself was pretty fun though–great to see what went on behind the scenes.  Wondering how much conjecture is in there–some of it seemed a bit daring in terms of assumptions.

Argo: Fantastic film.  Affleck has come a loooooong way since “Gone, Baby, Gone.”  I highly recommend this.

The Grey: Meh.  The plane crash was exciting, and the tone was very reminiscent of “The Thing,” but the ending left me wanting more.  That’s all I’ll say.  Don’t want to spoil it.

Friends with Kids: Writing was good, Acting from everyone except for Jennifer Westfeldt was good.  I liked this, but really it was Westfeldt that ruined it for me.  She stands out like a sore thumb amongst her talented ensemble cast, as she’s got something majorly amaterish about her style.  But props to her for this project–in all other respects she did a nice job.

Magic Mike: GROAN–ohhhh! Soderbergh!! What happened to you here?!? This was like getting roped into hanging out with a bunch of jock-type jerks for two hours and wondering why you’re there, wishing you could go home.  When they suffer you try not to snigger.  Not good.  Not good at all.

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5 Responses to “SAG Nominating Committee? MOI?!?”

  1. I actually thought that PSH was much better that Joaquin in The Master. Or maybe they were equal and I just liked Hoffman’s character more. Either way it was a great movie despite having no real plot.

  2. […] of the films submitted to me “for my consideration” for the 2013 SAG awards.  The link to that page is HERE, in case you missed some.  And now we’ve come to the shitty, anti-climatic […]

  3. […] how I blasted The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? The archetypes, oh holy Christ the ARCHETYPES!!!! Unfinished Song wasn’t quite as bad on a […]

  4. […] means it’s time to start micro-reviewing again!! You may remember last year’s season, when I was actually on the SAG nominating committee (read MILLIONS of “for your considerations…”  It was glorious!).  And if you […]

  5. […] Oh, and in case this wasn’t enough of an explanation, take a gander at how I felt about the first one.. […]


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