Monday, February 27, 2006

Cash, Crooks and Classics in DVD

Walk the Line is out in DVD today. This biopic of Johnny Cash is well done and has collected it's share of Oscar noms. Well worth seeing.

Pride and Predjudice is a nice adaptation of the Jane Austin classic. Kiera Knightly really hold this one together.

Ice Harvest is a good crooks gone awry flick. A solid rental for Billy Bob Thornton fans.

Classic films re-relesed to DVD today are, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. Two films, from director Sidney Lumet, that I really enjoyed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Oscar Picks 2006

One thing I have learned from my Oscar project, is that seeing all the nominated films actually makes it more difficult to pick the winners!

This is what my ballot would look like, were I allowed to vote in the Oscar race for films released in 2005. My hands down favorite nominated film of the year was Crash. Multi layered, race issues and gritty emotions define this film. Don't know how well it will do in the award department, but it's a winner with me. Brokeback Mountain did not have the same impact on me, but this is a film that was well made and acted. It will probably add more statues to it's award shelf on Sunday night. Any of the nominees could win and it would be well deserved.

Here are my picks for the major categories, with a few comments .... enjoy!!

Best Picture

Though Brokeback Mountain will probably win this, I think Crash was the better film.

Best Actress
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica

Reese and Dame Judi are strong in this category, but Huffman was a powerhouse his year.

Best Actor
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain

All strong performances in this category, Hoffman will probably win this, but I liked Ledger's performance better.

Best Supporting Actress
Frances McDormand - North Country

Rachel Weisz is the top contender in this category, but McDormand was outstanding in my eyes.

Best Supporting Actor
Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man

Matt Dillon was outstanding in this category also, but Giamatti dazzled me!

Best Animated Feature
Howl's Moving Castle

All nominees are deserving, wish there were 3 statues for this category.

Best Documentary Feature

This is my heartfelt favorite, though the Enron film is a strong contender for this award. On popular favorite, it could go to the penguins!!

Best Art Direction
Memoirs of a Geisha

Love to see Good Night, and Good Luck win here, but Geisha was just such a pretty film.

Best Cinematography
Good Night, and Good Luck

Best Director
Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain

This is such a strong group of nominees, but Lee's work on this film was absolutely striking.

Best Editing

Best Visual Effects
King Kong

Adapted Screenplay
Brokeback Mountain

A History of Violence was a more creative story, but any of the nominees are worthy here.

Original Screenplay

Though I'd love to see Clooney win this, Haggis and Moresco wrote the better script.

Best Original Song
"Travelin' Thru" - Dolly Parton from Transamerica

A wonderful song that embodies the film. Parton's still got it!

Tune in March 5th!!!


Flightplan is driven by the power of Jodie Foster. The story of a mother who find her child missing on a trans-Atlantic flight, this thriller has enough of a twist to be satisfying. Peter Sarsgaard and Sean Bean are strong, yet predictable. A good Saturday night rental.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Brothers Grimm

The Brothers Grimm is a fun romp of magic and quest. Heath Ledger departs his brooding performance in Brokeback Mountain to act goofy and frantic in this fun film. References to familiar fairytales run throughout, the premise is clever, and "they all live happily ever after".

Cache (Hidden)

Sometimes I just need to digest a film. The French film, Cache, is a thriller that gives you all the clues to the mystery, but leaves you guessing at the end. There is no pat resolution, I have been thinking about this film for 4 days now. I think I have the ending, but there may be several. A real mind bender.

Monday, February 20, 2006

North Country, Rent and Classics in DVD

In DVD this week, North Country explores the issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. With 2 Oscar noms for acting, this is a strong film that will be a popular rental.

After geeking out over a radio interview with Chris Columbus, director of the film Rent, on my favorite morning radio show, I realized that I probably qualify as a Rent-head. I have pre-ordered the DVD, and plan to re-visit the work of Jonathan Larson this weekend!!

All the President's Men and Midnight Cowboy are two classics being re-relesed to DVD that are well worth seeing.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Thing About My Folks

As I was leaving the theater during the Tribeca Film Festival last year, I saw a familiar face coming toward me on the escalator. The man was talking a mile a minute, and as he passed me, I realized it was Paul Riser! He was on his way to a Q&A for the screening of his film The Thing About My Folks. This was another film that I was unable to get a ticket to at the film festival, but I saw it in DVD last night. With Peter Falk playing his father, Riser tells the story of a man and his memories. This story is well told and drives home the point that not everyone has the same memory of the same event. It emphasizes compassion, caring and listening to others. This is a great road trip movie!

The New World

With a viewing of The New World today, I declare my Oscar Project for 2005 complete!! I don't have access to the foreign, documentary or short films so I'm happy having seen all 30 feature film nominees!!!

This last one was a little tough. The New World is nominated for an Oscar in cinematography, and it is well deserved. The rest of the film is a mess. The acting is fair, the editing awful (almost no continuity) and very little plot. This film was re-edited after it was first released, and I am grateful I did not have to sit through a longer version. I will say that Q'Orinanka Kilcher, Collin Farrell, Christian Bale and Christopher Plummer were fine, but it was not enough to salvage this film.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Transamerica came up on my film radar at the Tribeca Film Festival last April. Unable to get a ticket, I figured I'd see it in DVD before long. Wow, was I wrong! This film was rolled out super slow, and still has not hit theaters in RI. I went to Boston today to see it, and it was worth the ride. Felicity Huffman is believable as a man suffering from gender dysphoria, anticipating a gender change operation. The story has depth and heart, and is complicated by the revelation of an unknown son. Well worth seeing.

Angels in America

The Tony Kushner play, Angels in America, was adapted to an HBO miniseries in 2003. I first saw this film in 2004, and immediately fell in love with the story, the characters, the acting and, of course, the words. A beautiful testimony to life, death, theology, faith, friendship and loyalty. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this piece in DVD for Christmas (thanks M&J) and watched it again this week. I have watched the final scene at least a dozen times, and smile every time. Visiting Bethesda Fountain in Central Park holds new meaning for me now. This is not only a film, but an experience ....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Thumbsucker is a good independant film, with themes of teen angst and family struggle. In trying to stop thumbsucking, a teenager searches for his self worth. He goes the route of hypnosis and ritilin (interesting combination) and finds himself sooner than he expects. Vince Vaughn as the debate coach, and Justin Cobb as the teenager, give outstanding performances. Vaughn's is a serious role, and he plays it well. Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio are very real, playing the young man's parents.

Proof is in the DVD

The film Proof is released to DVD today. This was a good story of family, loyalty and love. A strong rental.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

How about the craziest guys in the room? This documentary outlines the rise and fall of Enron. It also examines the principals' personalities and motivations. An interesting analysis of the powerful effect of money and greed. When one of the Senators asks Ken Lay if he's on crack, because it would best explain his actions, you realize these men were delusional, arrogant and blinded by the big bucks. An interesting human study, and portrayal of this modern-day business drama.

Mrs. Henderson Presents

I went to see Mrs. Henderson Presents because of the Oscar nominations for Judi Dench and the costumes. What a pleasure! Mrs. Henderson buys a theater in London when her husband dies, and as the musical revue does not draw audiences on it's own, they add a nude tableau to the mix. The war begins, and they are wildly successful, the audiences often full of grateful young soldiers. Dench is wonderful as Mrs. Henderson, and after meeting Christopher Guest this summer, it was fun to see him on the big screen (He plays Tom Cromer, the licensing authority for London theaters). This is a good story, and both Dench and the costumes are Oscar worthy!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympic Film

With the opening of the 2006 Winter Olympics tonight, my thoughts turn to two films.
The 1993 film Cool Runnings is about the first Jamaican bobsled team to make it to the Olympics. Miracle reenacts the story of the 1980 USA Hockey team. Both films are great, and will put you in the mood for the winter games.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Love on DVD

Films out in DVD this week, address the theme of love nicely.

Elizabethtown is a love story on may levels. Love between a man and a woman, love of a parent, love of a family. A wonderful examination of the heart.

The re-release of Breakfast at Tiffany's, gives the Capote novel life! Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard (what a hottie) are enchanting. One of the best on-screen kisses graces this film.

Just Like Heaven is a sweet love story of a comatose woman's spirit and a broken hearted man. The cheesy ending was perfect for me.

Wallace and Gromitt: Curse of the Were Rabbit has love, adventure and ... well... rabbits!!! Fun film!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Oscar Noms

There's really not much to say about the Oscar nominations. Very predictable, the only surprises might be, Munich nominated for best picture instead of Walk the Line (I agree with the nomination), Amy Adams nominated for Junebug and William Hurt nominated for A History of Violence. All are well deserving, especially the technical nominees. Half of my Favorites for 2005 are nominees!