Saturday, April 05, 2014

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

I remember enjoying Anchorman. Goofy, funny and entertaining. As a rental it was very satisfying. When Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues came to theaters I thought I would pay the big bucks and see it on a big screen. As it worked out, I never found the time or motivation and the movie went on my DVD list. 20 minutes in, I realized that I was happy for the home view. Not as funny as the first, but entertaining enough, this is an OK rental. The big payoff is a celebrity-cameo-fueled battle finale.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Noah

On one hand, there were reviews of Darren Aronofsky's version of the Bible story Noah that sang its praises. On the other hand, deriders were so passionate that they came off as fanatics. By Sunday I had dismissed the negative and went out into the pouring rain to the theater. 10 minutes into the film I regretted my decision. The Watchers almost made me leave the theater. I have a policy of sticking it out, even if the movie is terrible so I stayed in my seat. I understand that the story of Noah is a fable, but those rock-shaped Transformers stretched it too far for me. There were battles that made sense, let's face it, mankind had gone bad. The solution to dealing with all those animals was clever, if not a bit far-fetched. The production value was excellent, and there were some performances I liked, but I left the theater shaking my head.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted

I was skeptical that another run at a Muppet movie would work. Muppets Most Wanted proved me wrong. Classic Muppet antics, a caper story, big name cameos and plenty of explosions hit all the right notes. Though many of the bits are familiar, I am reminded of why the Muppets were successful as a weekly show. It doesn't get old for folks like me. Sitting through the credits, I was rewarded with a message from Fozzie that doesn't get old either. There is a Monster's U short from Pixar. Party Central sets the mood for a good time. I will see this one again just for the fun of it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

One Day in September

Director Kevin MacDonald was accidentally interviewed by Marc Maron for the WTF Podcast. His booker thought they had scheduled the comedian Kevin McDonald, famous for Kids in the Hall. MacDonald's interview turned out to be engaging and interesting. I had seen his films The Last King of Scotland and Touching the Void, but not his Oscar winner One Day in September so I rented it. I found a dramatic film that tells the horrific story of the terrorists, Black September, and the hostage taking of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Interviews with the surviving terrorist are chilling. The editing builds drama and moves the story. Oscar worthy indeed.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson makes visually sumptuous films. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful addition to his catalogue. Aside from being very pretty, it is a romance, a heist, a chase and a prison break film. Ralph Fiennes is a compelling lead and carries this film nicely. The humor worked on me. The cast is stellar and cameos delightful. I look forward to seeing this film again. Utterly charming.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Lunchbox

On a recent trip to Brooklyn, I had the luxury of choosing a film with no Oscar connections. Acclaimed Hindi film, The Lunchbox was playing at the Angelika Film Center, so I hopped an F train and headed for Soho. I was early, so I took a stroll down Lafayette and came upon a Colossal Media artist working on a piece for Jagermeister....on a Sunday! Back at the theater, I enjoyed the story of a frustrated wife and mother who unwittingly strikes up a friendship with a stranger through the city's elaborate lunchbox delivery system. The visual sequence depicting this system is fascinating, and embeds us in the streets and atmosphere of Mumbai. The friendship progresses as her marriage disintegrates and we learn of the man's emotional ride through his conversations with a co-worker. A lovely story, a lovely film.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Oscar Picks 2014

Right now I have about 4 lists of Oscar picks. Two pools, what I would vote for and what I think will win. Here is how I would vote if The Academy asked.

Best Picture  Gravity
Best Director  Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Best Actor  Leonardo DiCaprio - The wolf of Wall Street
Best Actress  Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
Best Supporting Actor  Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress  Lupits Nyong'o - 12 Years A Slave
Best Animated Feature  Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film  The Hunt
Best Original Screenplay  Nebraska
Best Adapted Screenplay  Before Midnight
Best Costume Design  The Great Gatsby
Best Original Song  Happy
Best Original Score  Gravity
Best Documentary Feature  Cutie and the Boxer
Best Documentary Short  Cavediggers
Best Makeup & Hairstyling  Bad Grandpa
Best Production Design  Gravity
Best Cinematography  Gravity
Best Film Editing  Captain Phillips
Best Sound Editing  Lone Survivor
Best Sound Mixing  Inside Llewyn Davis
Best Visual Effects  Gravity
Best Animated Short  Room on the broom
Best Live Action Short  Just Before Losing Everything