Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Recap

Of the 24 categories on my Oscar ballot, I picked 13. Million Dollar Baby and Jamie Foxx worthy of their awards! As I watched the Oscars, these are my observations:

Best Dressed: Hillary Swank, blue is the new black

Best entrance: Kate Winslet

Best Makeup: Penelope Cruz (once she got her hair out of her face)

Best Acceptance speech: Jorge Drexler (Motorcycle Diaries, best song) for singing his acceptance speech

Men in straight ties
Blue was the color of the night.
Serious eye makeup and nude lip shades.

Tasteless remark by Chris Rock:
Introduced Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz as " ..... four presenters"

Felt bad for Emmy Rossum introducing Beyonce.

Oh yeah, and I made the best mess of popcorn in the kitchen, nice even spray, it went everywhere!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Oscar Picks 2005

OK folks, here are my picks for Sunday's festivities. I'm listing who I think will probably win the Oscar, and my best guess for a surprise winner. I'm not listing EVERY category, because that would be just plain boring. All nominated films and performances were Oscar worthy .... tune in on Sunday!!!

Best Picture
The Aviator-Pick
Million Dollar Baby-Surprise

Best Actor
Jamie Foxx / Ray-Pick
Leonardo DiCaprio / The Aviator-Surprise

Best Actress
Hillary Swank / Million Dollar Baby-Pick
Kate Winslet / Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind-Surprise

Best Director
Clint Eastwood / Million Dollar Baby-Pick
Martin Scorsese / The Aviator-Surprise (love to see this happen)

Best Supporting Actor
Clive Owen / Closer-Pick
Morgan Freeman / Million Dollar Baby-Surprise

Best Supporting Actress
Natalie Portman / Closer-Pick
Cate Blanchette / The Aviator-Surprise
Virginia Madsen / Sideways-Surprise (sorry, needed 2 here)

Best Screenplay (original)
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind-Pick
The Incredibles-Surprise(and deserving)

Best Screenplay (adapted)
Before Sunset-Surprise

Best Animated Feature
The Incredibles-Pick

Best Foreign Feature
The Sea Inside-Pick
The Chorus-Surprise

Best Documentary Feature
Born Into Brothels-Pick

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fear and Loathing

On the passing of writer Hunter Thompson, I thought of the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. My daughter M left this movie laying on my TV one weekend, so I gave it a look. She didn't think I would like it, but I thought it was brilliant!!! Funny, edgy and just plain crazy! Johnny Depp plays the best stoner I've ever seen, and the all star cast just shines!!! Not for everyone, but I thought it was damn funny!!

Monday, February 21, 2005

I (Heart) Tough Guys

The good news is, there are new DVD releases this week of Heat and Get Shorty. I like tough guy movies, and these are two good ones.

Heat is a star studded heist film that Michael Mann helms in his glorious style. Pacino and DeNiro do some great work here. Well done good guy / bad guy story.

Get Shorty is full of action and clever dialogue, the cast is amazing. I always watch Hackman in awe. There's also a scene where DeVito descends a staircase oozing menace and presence. Can't wait for the follow-up film, Be Cool.

What About Huckabees?

My views on the DVD release of I (heart) Huckabees this week are, regrettably, negative. I like to find something good in all film, but this one makes it tough. I (heart) Huckabees, to me, is a slow, silly waste of time. I love the previous work of all the cast, but as I sat, and sat, and sat, and sat, and sat through this movie, I realized I was just plain bored. I got it, most of it was very predictable, but it just didn't do it for me.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Uncle Nino

I had a unique movie experience today with Uncle Nino. This is a film that has no explosions, violence, sex, nudity, swearing or bathroom scenes ..... and it is a good one.... imagine!!!! Uncle Nino is the story of a family with 2 kids, working mom, workaholic dad, and old Uncle Nino comes to visit from Italy. His presence has a wonderful effect on each member of the family, and makes them look at their relationships with each other. This story is well written, we don't even find out the real reason for Uncle Nino's visit until the end. Very satisfying film.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Sea Inside

Javier Bardem is unrecognizable for most of this film (his makeup is flawless) .... until he smiles, and oh those eyes *sigh*! The story of Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic, who fought a 30 year battle for legal assisted suicide in Spain, is a beautiful story. The story is told gently and respectfully of Ramon and his family. A pretty film too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Last Supper

Following my request for film suggestions from the kids (thanks M), I saw The Last Supper. I love stories of situations gone awry. One needs to remember that it's just a movie at times. The more outrageous it becomes, the more plausible it seems .... hmmmm. A group of friends, appalled by unsavory political postures, take matters into their own hands. Things get out of control, and they bring about their own demise. Good black comedy.

Monday, February 14, 2005

An Architect and a Motorcycle

Two wonderful movies from 2004 come out in DVD this week. My Architect is a documentary about the life and art of architect Louis Kahn. His son explores the life of his father, who was not a very nice man ... but a brilliant artist. Interesting piece, touching in places.

The Motorcycle Diaries is a great road trip film, depicting the young adventures of Che Guevara and his pal Alberto on a road trip through South America. The motorcycle doesn't last long, but the young men accomplish their journey. This film was made on location in South America, and many scenes are breathtaking. This was one of my favorite films this year !!

Sunday, February 13, 2005


In my ongoing fan-fest for Will Smith, I saw Hitch today. It is a cute romantic comedy, that gets a little slow at the end, but recovers right before the credits. The bright spots are Smith, Kevin James (so lovable)and Eva Mendez (nice surprise). The script is clever, the acting right on and , as I said, aside from one slow spot, a fun film!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2005


In this story of a dysfunctional family reunion for a funeral, the deceased man's granddaughter struggles to write his eulogy. This is your typical black comedy, crazy family film, but the characters are SO nuts, and the acting SO good. Zooey Deschanel, Hank Azaria, Ray Romano,Debra Winger and Famke Janssen play the core members of this wacky family, as they uncover family secrets and lay grandpa to rest ... such as it is!!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Raging Bull

Raging Bull is finally being released in DVD today. The rise and fall of Jake Lamotta's boxing career is a story of professional and personal struggle. I borrowed the video from the library this summer, after seeing Martin Scorsese speak at the Tribeca Film Festival, and was reminded that this is a real work of art. From the music, to the cinematography, and those performances!! When it was released in 1980, this is the first movie I saw as a "film". A real cinematic gem!!

Monday, February 07, 2005

A Lovely Valentine

One of the best love stories on film from 2004 comes out in DVD this week. The Notebook is the story of a young couple, as retold by the man of the couple, in his golden years. There's a small twist that's pretty obvious early on, but it is still a great love story, with a very poignant ending. The performances are strong, especially James Garner. Have the tissues ready!!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

End of the Century

End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones is another great documentary about a form of music with which I am unfamiliar. I'd always heard of the Ramones, but am just old enough to have missed the whole punk rock thing. As with Metalica:Some Kind of Monster, Obstinato, Growing up on Tour:A Family Portrait and Tupac:Resurrection, I like learning about these music forms from the artists themselves, in documentary film style. This film was well made, and gave many points of view of the 20 plus year career of the Ramones. I was surprised that I liked the music too!!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Oh Vera

Vera Drake is cinema of the heart. The story of a kind, generous, well meaning woman in 1950's London, collides with the law's view of assisting abortion. How the discovery of her activities effects her, and her family, is heart wrenching. The cinematography and performances are outstanding. A very sad story.

Top 10 of 2004

I have finally committed to a top 10 list for the films of 2004. This was SO hard!!!! I wanted to enter a contest in Film Comment magazine so I had to whittle my list of almost 30 films down to 10. I realized my problem is that I like to find something good in every film I see. Here is the list I sent to Film Comment:

1. Million Dollar Baby
2. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
3. The Incredibles
4. Garden State
5. Ray
6. Motorcycle Diaries
7. Sideways
8. Closer
9. The Aviator
10. Finding Neverland

Of course, I have to have an honorable mention list which includes Beyond the Sea, Spiderman 2, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Shaun of the Dead, Lemony Snicket, Hotel Rwanda and Before Sunset.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I've declared a new contest, "Recommend a Great Film"!!!! I take film recommendations from friends and family all the time. On the whole, I enjoy them. Films like Dick, The Croupier, Godfather 2 and Shall We Dance? (Japanese version), are all films I really enjoyed, and would not have seen, were they not recommended to me. Recently, I have encouraged my kids to recommend films for me, and they do not disappoint. First Melanie and Joe encouraged me to see Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. I was skeptical, but loved it!! Funny as hell and a great social commentary. Then Liza recommended Employee of the Month (a Sundance 2004 film) outstanding black comedy, fabulous twists and turns, be sure to sit through the credits for the real ending, hehe!!!!

Keep those recommendations coming!!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Ray, Shall We Dance?

The original version of Shall We Dance? is out in DVD. For years this film has sat in the bargain bins in video stores, but this charming Japanese film enjoys new popularity thanks to this year's remake with big names Gere, Sarandon and Lopez. Looking for a little variety in his life and routine, a shy accountant signs up for a ballroom dancing class. The people in his class, the instructors and a dance competition show him, and his family, a side of him they did not know.

The film Ray is another charmer that tells the story of the early life of Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx gives an amazing performance as the music legend, and Taylor Hackford steers this story masterfully. The supporting cast is strong. This is one of this year's "must see" films.

Also out in DVD today is Vanity Fair. If you like period films, or Reese Witherspoon this is an ok story of social climber Becky Sharp. A little long, but I liked the costumes and Ms. Witherspoon's shot at an affected accent.