Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 2/29/08

Opening in RI theaters this weekend, we've got Semi Pro. A silly sports comedy that is continuously vulgar and juvenile. The Other Boleyn Girl, a period film with a lot of eye candy, and Penelope, a modern fairy tale about inner beauty. There are still 9 Oscar nominated films in theaters, and all 5 Best Picture nominees are as well. If the Oscars made you feel like you've missed out, get thee to a theater! If you'd rather stay on the couch, Oscar winners Michael Clayton, Bourne Ultimatum, Once, Ratatouille, La Vie en Rose, and Elizabeth:The Golden Age are all in DVD.
Oh yeah, U2 and Hannah Montana concert films are still in theaters as well! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Charlie Bartlett

Charlie Bartlett is more of a teen drama than teen comedy. A young man, from a wealthy home, keeps getting kicked out of fancy schools for illegal activities (such as making fake IDs). He ends up at the local public school, and finds that a lot of the kids just need someone to talk to. He becomes popular for his ability to listen, and access to prescription medication. There are funny moments in this film, but it tackles heavy issues like depression, suicide, absentee parents, substance abuse, acceptance, privacy and teen sexuality. Good acting and tidy ending, left me a little melancholy, but I liked it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vantage Point

Vantage Point is an interesting thriller ...... for about an hour. An assassination attempt and terrorist attacks, are part of a chain of events that we see 8 times. Each viewing presents a new piece of the story. Great, right? Should be. In the last telling, a pointless chase, pointless characters, and senseless reveals spoil what should have been a decent thriller. Bummer.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In Bruges

A hit man, with a conscious, is the central character in the film In Bruges. He's hiding out with an accomplice, and the trip takes an ugly turn. Drugs, hookers, murderers and a dwarf (no kidding, he has a purpose) make up the cast of this off-beat thriller. Now I've known a few people who have been to Bruges. They all gave the small Belgian city a big thumbs up. Kind of strange to watch this bloody thriller unfold in, what I've been told, is a beautiful, romantic place. A dark comedy-thriller I enjoyed.

Be Kind Rewind

Though Be Kind Rewind is a goofy, buddy comedy, it is also a tribute to the love of film. Not only for the film makers, but the fans as well. A small video store suffers the demise of it's inventory to a "magnetic incident". To survive the ire of the store owner, the goof balls in charge, desperately start re-making the films themselves. Anyone who has ever wanted to make their own movie should see this ...... or anyone who wants a good laugh. A funny film with a poignant ending.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Brits, Brothers and Beowulf in DVD

In DVD this week, we have the very funny Brit film Death at A Funeral. The Darjeeling Limited is an exotic road trip with three brothers. Many laughs and poignant moments. Beowulf is translated in motion-capture, digital animation for a wild ride .... enjoy!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar 2008 : The Awards Ceremony

So I did OK with my Oscar picks. 12 for 24, apparently seeing all the films gives me no edge *yeesh*! The winners are listed here. A few thoughts before I go to bed........

Best Gown: Jenifer Garner
Best Makeup: Ellen Page
Best Hair: Amy Adams
Best Tux: Tom Hanks
Best entrance: Cameron Diaz
Coolest Oscar moment: Bringing Marketa Irglova back out to make her thank yous after they turned the mike off on her. Never seen that before.
On to the films of 2008!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Independent Spirit Awards 2008

I didn't watch the Independent Spirit Awards (I don't get IFC on my caveman cable), but I was cheering on the nominees, as I am a huge fan of independent film. Juno, Once and Julian Schnabel were my favorite winners. This singing interview with the principles from Once, which won for Best Foreign feature is precious. Now on to the Oscars!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oscar 2008 : The Pictures

And finally, we have the Best Pictures of the year. For Best Motion Picture of the year, I'd love to see Juno win it, but I think that's a stretch. With films like There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men, the competition is fierce. I think No Country for Old Men will win, but a statue for There Will Be Blood wouldn't surprise me (waffles anyone? sorry). For Best Animated Picture I think it will be Ratatouille. Best Animated Short Film could go to any of the nominees, they're all so different. I think I Met the Walrus could win it on a sentimental vote, though Peter & the Wolf has more universal appeal. I haven't seen all of the documentaries, foreigns or short live action, so I can't really make a call there. I did see the documentary No End in Sight, and think it could take the award.

So that's the last of my Oscar entries. It's been a great year in film. All I have left to do is gather my snacks, chill the appropriate beverages, don my Juno t-shirt and tune in to the broadcast Sunday night. A printable ballot is here for anyone who wants to make their own predictions, or just keep track. Happy Oscars!!

Friday Flick Picks 2/22/08

The thrillers Vantage Point and In Bruges hit RI theaters this weekend. The comedies Charlie Bartlett and Be Kind Rewind will tickle the funny bone. Families can check out the Spiderwick Chronicles. Two good date movies are Definitely, Maybe and 27 Dresses. U2 3D and Hannah Montana are still in theaters for a cool 3D concert film experience.

These are my quick picks for winning Oscars on Sunday night, all of these films worth a look.
Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
Best Actress - Ellen Page for Juno
Best Director - Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Best Picture - No Country for Old Men

Let's hope the Academy has surprises for us, can't wait!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oscar 2008 : The People

As of last night, I've seen all of the Oscar nominated films (not including documentaries, foreign and live-action shorts). *whew* I used to think this activity would make picking the Oscar winners a breeze, but I've found it's the opposite. All of the performances nominated are award worthy, I want them all to win! I'll be cheering no matter who gets the gold guy.

I think the strongest performance for Supporting Actor came from Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, for Supporting Actress I'm sold on Amy Ryan's performance in Gone Baby Gone. I'd love to see Ellen Page walk with the Best Actress award for her performance in Juno (today is her birthday, Happy Birthday!), though if Julie Christie wins it for Away From Her, it would be deserving. The slam-dunk this year is Daniel Day-Lewis, probably, winning the Best Actor Oscar for his mesmerizing performance in There Will Be Blood. The Best Director award is tough. My sentimental favorite is Julian Schnabel for his direction of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but I think Joel and Ethan Coen will probably be arguing over whose mantel the statue will sit on when the evening is done, for their work on No Country for Old Men. All award worthy work!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oscar 2008 : The Stories

I recently read that if you're looking for the best films of the year, look at the nominations for Best Screenplays. I agree. Because writing is a struggle for me, I have a lot of respect for those who can organize words.

For Original Screenplay, Diablo Cody has brought movie goers a breath of fresh air in the film Juno. The story she tells, the characters she creates (I agree that Paulie Bleeker is totally boss!) and the dialogue she delivers, makes for a fine film. After seeing it a second time, with a more critical eye, my biggest problem was missing a word or line due to the laughter from the audience! Never a bad thing....

With The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ronald Harwood adapts the fascinating story of Jean-Dominique Bauby. His stroke, his struggle, his life, his loves. Bauby wrote his own story through a painstaking technique, Harwood brings it to the screen as a tender, personal story. A beautiful story, a beautiful film.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oscar 2008 : The Sounds

I remember when speakers were installed down the side walls of movie theaters. Dolby digital sound was one awesome development! When thinking about sound in a film, I figure if a non-expert, like me, notices, it must be good. Of the nominees for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, the film that stands out to me for both awards is Transformers. When it comes to music, the most memorable Original Soundtrack, for me, was in the film Atonement. For Original Song, I'm all about "Falling Slowly" from the film Once. Not only is it a gorgeous song, beautifully performed, it is used as a dramatic vehicle in the film. I was brought to tears both times it was used. With music, comes emotion, brilliant!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oscar 2008 : The Sights

I will start by saying that 2007 was a wonderful year for film. When I look at the list of Oscar nominated films, there's not one that isn't worth your time.

The look of a movie is key. Art Direction is a pretty big award in my book. Many movies had a fantastic look, but the one that stands out in my mind is Atonement. The sets, the colors, the scene at the beach, just gorgeous. I'm surprised to say that my favorite for Cinematography is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, absolutely poetic. The Editing in Into the Wild did a masterful job of telling the back story of Chris McCandless, along with the adventure of a lifetime. All the nominees for Visual Effects are award-worthy, but the robots impressed me more than the pirates, so Transformers gets my vote. I saw it from the front row, the back row and my couch, blew my mind every time. The award for Costumes is an easy call for me. I went to see Elizabeth:The Golden Age anticipating the nomination, and was not disappointed. The garb of the period is so dramatic it's hard to ignore, they did a beautiful job in this film. Oddly, I'm giving Norbit the nod for makeup. Eddie Murphy is unrecognizable as 2 of the 3 characters in this film. Could it win a Razzie and an Oscar in the same year? I'd love that!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Politics, Punks and Spies (oh my) in DVD

My DVD post is early this week, to make way for the Oscar series I'll post this week. And what a week of releases! Two blockbusters (and Oscar nominees), American Gangster and Michael Clayton hit the DVD shelves. What's hotter than Denzel and Clooney? *sigh* In Rendition, Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon, play characters dealing with the horror of international, racial profiling. Finally, the historic, erotic thriller, Lust, Caution shows what lengths spies will go to in times of war. Happy viewing!

Fierce People

Fierce People is another film I was sold out of at Tribeca Film Festival. I finally got to see it on DVD. This is a bit of a coming of age story, a bit of a thriller and a bit of a romance. A woman with substance abuse issues, goes to work for a wealthy man as his masseur. Her teenage son goes with her, to live on the estate for a summer. He fantasizes about a relationship with a famous father he has never met. They are fish out of water in the wealthy environment, and are encouraged to try to fit in. It is an interesting study of human nature and class systems. Well acted and directed, a drama worth a look.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

In the Shadow of the Moon

When I was a kid, anything to do with the space program interrupted regular television programing. The documentary, In the Shadow of the Moon, brought back those childhood memories, of watching those broadcasts in awe. Film maker, David Sington, brings together the astronauts and vintage footage, to portray the drama and courage of the missions to the moon. This was the opening film at the Newport Film Festival this past year. Everyone I ran into, on the night that it was screened, was excited and energized to have seen the film and meet Mr. Sington. The perspective of the astronauts in this film feels personal and intimate, I liked this film so much I watched it twice!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 2/15/08

There are two strong additions to the RI movie scene this weekend. Definitely, Maybe is a good solid date movie and The Spiderwick Chronicles fills the bill for the kids. I'm Not There returns to the Avon for the continuing Heath Ledger love-fest. U2 3D moves to a midnight show to make room for The Spiderwick Chronicles at the IMAX theater, and Hannah Montana remains in theaters for another week. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Definitely, Maybe

In Definitely, Maybe a young girl wants her father to tell her the story of how he ended up with her mother. The story of three women in his life, has just enough depth to be interesting, and just enough predictability to move along. Ryan Reynolds carries this film well. I was impressed with him in The Nines, and this performance shows he's a strong leading man that can create an endearing, believable character. The end is satisfying, but not totally predictable. I liked this modern love story.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles is the story of a family that moves from NY to an abandoned old house, that was left to the mother. Why the house is abandoned is revealed early on, and the action begins. An appreciation for fantasy and magic helps with this one. A steady pace, brave characters and snappy script, move this story along to a sweet conclusion. The goblins are scary, the ogre even more so and Hogsqueal, pretty darn funny. There are some very intense chase scenes and the ultimate hero was a big surprise. A good, solid fantasy film for the family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is the longest film title I've seen in a while. This lovely, poetic film is an interesting perspective on the reputation and late life of the notorious outlaw Jesse James. Robert Ford was a wanna be James Gang member, who was looking for a claim to fame and a pardon for a previous murder. Outstanding performances from Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell and Brad Pitt, make this a period film worth seeing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Screen Scenes: Criterion Cinemas, New Haven, CT

Ninety miles south of my home, is New Haven, CT. This small New England city is home to a Bow Tie theater, the Criterion Cinema. I first became aware of this little gem when my niece told me about a "fancy movie theater" she'd been to in New Haven. A quick internet search found the New Haven branch of this indie friendly chain, and I was hooked. On Mother's Day I had my first chance to visit this theater, it was a promotional showing of Waitress. Month's later, my movie buddy Deb and I, saw Darjeeling Limited and Gone Baby Gone. A quick walk across the street and we had sandwiches at Katz's Deli II after the show, yum! Convenient off the highway, safe easy parking garage across the street, comfy seating, friendly staff and flavored salt for the popcorn. A nice cinematic find.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Kitchens, Kidnap and Kicks in DVD

Gone Baby Gone is out in DVD this week. An interesting crime story with a good twist and a satisfying ending. Also out is No Reservations. A meticulous chef must face her personal life when a family tragedy hits. Romance & Cigarettes is a crazy, funny story of betrayal, remorse, forgiveness and family. Did I mention the singing and dancing?!? Enjoy ......

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wild West Comedy Show:30 Days & 30 Nights-Hollywood to the Heartland

In 2005, actor Vince Vaughn, took 4 stand up comedians on the road to perform for 30 days straight, all over the U.S.. The film chronicle is the documentary Wild West Comedy Show:30 Days&30 Nights-Hollywood to the Heartland. Though there are a lot of clips from the show, this film is not a comedy show, it is a documentary about the show and the journey. Much of it is funny, but like the film Comedian, it explores the angst, joy and process of the creative, comic mind. The comedians are endearing, funny, sexy and open. Their journey makes for an interesting documentary.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Great World of Sound

Volunteering for the Newport International Film Festival is one of the high points of my film year. I work in transportation, it is a fantastic way to meet all the film folks. Unfortunately, it does not leave me much time to see films.

This year, one of the more interesting people I met was Craig Zobel, a young director. I just saw his film The Great World of Sound in DVD. I was told that the story was about an American Idol-type talent search. When I asked Zobel if it was a true story, he laughed and said "no". Now I see why he laughed. Two men are sent out by a bogus record label to sign new talent, they are required to get 30% of the production cost from the struggling artists. It's all a scam, and leaves the salesmen and the artists in a rough spot. The audition process is the American Idol tie, I read that 80% of the performers are actual artists, that only a couple were scripted. A good morality tale, nice job Mr. Zobel, glad I finally saw this.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 2/8/08

For the listeners over at 92ProFM, I thought I'd post what's in Rhode Island theaters to go with the broadcast of Friday Flick Picks (92.3 on your FM dial).
For comedy there's 27 Dresses, Juno, Fool's Gold and Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show
For drama there's There Will Be Blood, Atonement, The Savages, Michael Clayton and Cloverfield
In art houses, check out The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Persepolis. Heath Ledger's film Candy is the midnight movie at the Avon, an excellent piece.
On Monday, Februay 11th, the Newport International Film Festival is sponsoring a showing of the Oscar nominated shorts at the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport at 7PM, check it out!

Fool's Gold

The movie Fool's Gold is being marketed as romantic comedy, but for me, it was more of an adventure comedy. There was a point where it reminded me of Romancing the Stone and National Treasure.

Reasons to see it now:
1.The island setting is gorgeous, (thank you Australia), a very pretty movie
2. Matthew McConaughey's biceps *sigh*
3. Kate Hudson's lovely smile and charm

Reason's to wait for the DVD:
1. A cool underwater sequence at the end (fast forward)
2. Matthew McConaughey's biceps (rewind)
3. A story that's just plain silly at points and struggles for the few funny moments. (snack runs will help)

An OK flick .......

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Top 10 Films of 2007

Yes, I know I'm late to the party on my Top 10 Films for 2007, but I had a few more films to see, I got caught up in a few home improvements and the dog ate my homework. Excuses aside, here they are. This list was honed down from over 30 films, such a great year! Keep an eye out for these in DVD! Click on the titles to see my thoughts.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
The Host
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Lookout

And since 10 is such a small number when it comes to me and film, here are another few films I really enjoyed (sorry, just couldn't stop) : Zodiac, The Namesake, Brooklyn Rules, Waitress, Paprika, The Darjeeling Limited .... I'll stop there, stay tuned!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Screen Scenes:Providence Place 16, Providence, RI

Along with all the cozy little theaters I enjoy, I venture to the multi-plex from time to time as well. The Providence Place Mall, here in RI, boasts a cinema with 16 screens, function rooms, a bar, and have added the IMAX theater next door to its holdings. This is also a venue that hosts sneak previews regularly. A nice perk in our small state. I had the full Providence Place experience this summer when I had the pleasure of attending the Hasbro premiere of Transformers. An awesome event in a great venue!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Music, Monarchs and Memories on DVD

It looks like February is going to be a banner month for DVD releases.
I've seen Across the Universe, a modern day musical set to the music of the Beatles.

Elizabeth:The Golden Age was a pleasant surprise for the acting and the costumes (I called the Oscar nomination early on).

The sentimental favorite this week is the Disney classic , The AristoCats. I went on my first date when I was 14, he was 15, (hubba, hubba) and we went to see The AristoCats. His sister drove us, and the theater was packed (yes, he held my hand). Understandably, I have more memories of the guy than the movie, but it was the first animated film I saw, that I was conscious of celebrity voice work (well, to me, Phil Harris and Eva Gabor were celebrities).

Continuing on the theme of love, the film 2 Days in Paris tackles the situation of bring your lover home, when you have a colorful family and past. Enjoy ......

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Nines

I enjoy films that make me think. The Nines is just that. Three stories, that intersect in crazy ways, is highly creative and challenges the logic of our world. Every time I thought I had my brain around what was going on, I couldn't find a way to explain it. This was a challenging film that I really enjoyed. I would recommend that anyone who sees this on DVD, watch the extra feature that explains the film. It helped me quite a bit.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


It helps to watch a film you're not sure of, with someone who already loves it. With my daughter Melanie, it was One Fine Day, with my friend Susan, Fools Rush In. Tonight, with my daughter Liza, it was Norbit. Yes, Liza loves Norbit. I wanted to see it because of it's Oscar nomination for makeup. Liza wanted to see it because it makes her laugh (she was recovering from a cold and a lost weekend trip). We stocked up on snacks, and watched the antics of Eddie Murphy in multiple roles. As a comedy, I thought it was OK (I'm not surprised by the Razzie nominations). Liza was highly entertained by the physical humor of the character Rasputia. I will say that Murphy's creation of the over-sized, overbearing woman, and also the character, Mr. Wong, were impressive. I think the Oscar nod for makeup is well deserved.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Oscar Shorts 2007

In my continuing quest to see as many Oscar nominated films as possible before February 24th, my daughter sent me a link to the animated shorts. Very cool, take a look!