Sunday, January 30, 2005

Being (Annette) Julia

In my quest for Oscar, I traveled to Boston today to see best actress nominee Annette Bening in Being Julia. In a small theater, with an enthusiastic audience, I saw a gem of a film. The story of a successful stage actress, in 1930's London, was funny, clever, sexy and entertaining. Jeremy Irons and Juliet Stevenson shine in a strong supporting cast. Well worth seeing, it comes out in DVD in March.

Come Out, Come Out

There are a handful of actors that have such a presence and talent, I would watch them read the phone book. Robert DeNiro and Dakota Fanning are 2 of them. Hide and Seek is a decent mid-winter movie, mostly because of these 2 actors. A thriller that had me fooled, right to the reveal of the twist. A little dark and drawn out, but Fanning and DeNiro make it work.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Camel and Tupac

I saw 2 films nominated for Oscars in the catergory of best documentary film. Documentary film is a great way to observe real life depictions of parts of the world, or lifestyles, you normally wouldn't see.

The Story of the Weeping Camel takes you to Mongolia. A camel is born and the mother, rejects it. The tribe that owns the camels uses creativity to get the camel to accept her newborn colt. Beautifully filmed, not all the dialogue is subtitled.

Tupac:Resurrection is about the slain rap artist Tupac Shakur. I know very little about the rap world, so I found this film interesting. The whole film is archive footage of Tupac, put together to tell his life story. Interesting to see his perspective of the short life he lead. Some of the footage is prophetic of his demise ... a little erie. Kind of a sad story.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oscar Noms

The Oscar nominations are out!! has a printable ballot if you want to play along. I have never been able to predict more than half of the winners, but I do love seeing all the films and following the coverage.

As I have said before, I love the dark horse nominees. There are not many this year. The only ones I see for acting noms are Catalina Sandino Moreno for Maria Full of Grace, a powerful, haunting performance, and Sophia Okonedo for Hotel Rwanda, plays so well opposite Don Cheadle.

I was thrilled to see Lemony Snicket and I Robot acknowledged. I was disappointed for Meryl Streep (Manchurian Candidate), Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind), Paul Giamati (Sideways), Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea) and Zac Braff (Garden State) .... but that's the way the Oscar tumbles!!

We'll see the results on February 27th, must go dust off my tiara!!

Metalica and the Sky

Two films I've seen are out on DVD, and they are both worth seeing.

Metalica: Some Kind of Monster is an interesting documentary about the therapy sessions for the band Metalica. As time, fame, age, family and addictions caught up to them, they sought professional help to stay together. It is an interesting journey. I really like Metalica's hard rock, but if you're looking for their music, buy a CD, there is more talk than music in the film. Wonderful insight to the band.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a fun ride. The tongue is firmly planted in the cheek. The script, of this sci-fi fantasy, is clever and sarcastic. All performances are as you would expect. Giovanni Ribsi has a supporting role that he carries off quite well (helps that he's so cute!) The special effects are amazing, it's a fun film!!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Million Dollar Snow Storm

I was with my daughter Liza in NYC this weekend to see the Broadway show Rent on Friday night (thanks Liza!!) The weather report for Saturday was snow. What would you do!?!!? We went to the movies!!!

Our first film of the day was Million Dollar Baby. My comment, as the credits rolled, was "wow" (through my tears). This was a great story, incredible acting and rip-your-heart-out emotional ride. Both of us enjoyed this film immensely!!!

When we came out of the theater, there was about 3" of snow on the ground, so we trekked down the street to see the documentary Born into Brothels. Film is a great way to see parts of the world you can't travel to. The footage of the way the children are raised in these brothels in Calcutta, and an outsider's efforts to rescue them make you want to jump on a plane. The effort to better these children's lives is admirable, but the eye-opening influence of family and culture is powerful.

On Sunday the sun was shining bright, but the snowfall overnight put off our travel for a day, so we headed for the theater to see Hotel Rwanda. Another eye opener to the atrocities that occur in the world, and the people who try to make a difference. Wonderful film.

We did watch both NFL playoff games, so we weren't totally movie obsessed. Both games were great, and though I know Liza is torn I've gotta say it "GO PATS !!!!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Friday Night Lights

Out in DVD this week is the film Friday Night Lights. This is the story of a high school football team, in Texas, and their journey to a championship. Billy Bob Thornton plays the central character of the coach, Tim McGraw plays one of the parents of a player. There is plenty of drama and passion in this story. It is more about the characters than the sport. The game sequences are graphic, shot almost doucumentery-style. This is a good human drama.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Golden Fields

After watching the Golden Globes last night, one of my favorite films came to mind. The Man from Elysian Fields is a morality tale with a cast that movie lovers, like me, dream of. Check out this cast, Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Angelica Huston, Mick Jagger, James Coburn and Olivia Williams. Seeing Mick, Julianna and Angelica at the awards, I was reminded of their strong performances in this film. Garcia plays a writer, who is having trouble selling his second book. In need of money, he turns to Jagger's character for employment. I really enjoyed this story about life choices, and their consequences.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

House of Flying Daggers

I was first introduced to the genre of martial arts film by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2001. It interests me visually, but I was not impressed with the story. Then, I saw Hero. The creative story and visual was incredible, one of my favorite films from last year. House of Flying Daggers follows in those footsteps, but fails to fill the shoes. The visual is great,but the story is boring. I was most interested in knowing that the last scene was filmed in the snow , because the weather was such on location. Unfortunately, the scene dragged so badly, I was grateful for the credits. Pretty film, but no story.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Six Degrees of Will Smith

OK, I'm admitting it here, one of my guilty pleasure film actors is Will Smith. I have seen many a mediocre movie because he is in it. And , yes, I love The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ... His first feature film was Six Degrees of Separation, where he plays a con man, looking for substance in his life. The dialogue gives away the fact that this is an adapted play, but it translates nicely to the screen. Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland play the central couple, on whom, Smith's character works his charms. Sutherland's character is an art dealer, and the art collection in the couple's apartment is impressive. Well worth a look if you like stage translated to screen, or.....Will Smith!!

In Good Company

I had the pleasure of seeing In Good Company last night. Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace put in awesome performances (the whole cast is very strong). The story is a little predictable, but there are enough "moments" to keep it interesting. This is a story about a corporate takeover, and the human relationships it effects. I saw this in a packed theater, and the audience response was great, laughter, gasps and a few "oh no's"!!! Good flick to ease the winter blahs!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

SAG Award Noms

The Screen Actors Guild has announced it's nominees for excellence in movies and television for 2004. All the usuals are there, but I always enjoy seeing a dark horse in the crowd. There are three that I see, and well deserved. I had the same reaction to all of these actors in the roles they were nominated for, the screen lit up when they were in a scene. Freddie Highmore, in Finding Neverland, has an amazing screen presence for such a young actor. Cloris Leachman in Spanglish, commanded every scene she was in. And James Garner, In the Notebook, ripped my heart out in one of the best love stories on screen this year! Congrats to all the nominees!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It Takes a Village

Out in DVD today is The Village. There was so much talk about this film when it came out this summer, I wasn't going to see it. Then I heard someone say that if you went in to it with no expectations, the film entertains. I tried it, I liked it. Nuff said.

Another DVD released today, is a deluxe edition of The Fifth Element. I saw this sci-fi thriller recently, and really liked it!! Bruce Willis carries this wild ride, and all the furturistic stuff is pretty cool.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

All Aboard !

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I finally saw The Polar Express. What a visual treat!! I would love to see this in IMAX 3D someday. The story was fine, being so classic, it will be a perennial favorite for years. The animation was very cool, there were times when I forgot it wasn't real. The North Pole was a little wacky, all that bounding and flipping around. I really liked the depiction of Santa, he was the man in charge. The train crew was great comic relief, there were intense moments when it was needed. A good ride, bravo Mr. Zemeckis!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Football or Film?

This time of year is, for me with film, like the Superbowl is to football fans. As I have said, I do not think the Oscars are the be-all and end-all determination of film excellence, but they get a lot of press, so it is a high profile barometer of the past film season. Several years ago I started to use the Oscar nominations as a basis for selecting films to see. I try to see as many nominated films as I can before the gala event. This is a project, because by the time the nominees are announced, many of the films have left theaters, and may not be out in DVD in time ... a dilemma. I try to be diligent during the year, but I usually get trapped by one or 2 films. It's usually some awful film nominated for something obscure like sound or costumes. Nominations will be announced on January 25th, then I'll be making my clean-up list. I already fear I'll have to see The Day After Tomorrow, as it is being considered for a nom in sound editing *sigh*

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


This time of year everyone is publishing Top 10 film lists. The usual suspects always end up on those lists, but I love finding the odd film someone enjoyed and found list-worthy. I tried to make my own Top 10 list, but found the number of films I enjoyed this year approached 30 (and I still have about 10 to see)! Not to bore you with a list, I'll offer a few thoughts:

1. Films from 2004 that made it into my DVD collection; Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Spiderman 2 and Coffee and Cigarettes.

2. Sports-theme films that surprised me; Miracle and Friday Night Lights.

3. Love stories that enthralled me; De'Lovely, Before Sunset, A Home at the End of the World, The Notebook, A Very Long Engagement and Garden State

4. Biopics that wowed me; Beyond the Sea, Ray, Finding Neverland, The Motorcycle Diaries, Kinsey and The Aviator

5. Action films that entertained me; Collateral, I Robot, The Incredibles, Criminal, Shaun of the Dead and Kill Bill 2.

6. Films I just enjoyed, but can't think of categories; Sideways, Closer, Mean Girls, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Maria Full of Grace.

See what I mean!?!?!?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Hotties of the Week

Though I have always thought Brad Pitt was cute, I never got the "hot " factor, until I saw him as Achilles in Troy. Out in DVD this week, this film was better than I expected, and Brad Pitt's buff look certainly made the character. There is a beach battle scene that is impressive also. Not a great film, but worth a look.

Another group of macho guys can be seen in Riding Giants, a documentary about surfing giant waves. The footage is mesmerizing, and the history of surfing, interesting. This film was screened at the Newport Film Fesitval this summer, and I must say these gentlemen are easy on the eyes in person. Awesome documentary.

And my favorite, of this group of hotties, are Harold & Kumar, in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. This film is very funny, a great social commentary and even a love story. This was another film I enjoyed more than I expected, especially a scene where they steal a car and rock out to the unexpected music found in the tape player.... hilarious!!!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Do you Spanglish?

Spanglish is the latest Adam Sandler vehicle. He plays a successful chef, with a bored wife (Tea Leoni), and a couple of kids, hires a Mexican woman (Paz Vega) as domestic help, she speaks no english. The first hour and a half of this film is great, the character development is good. There are no subtitles when Flor speaks, which helps the audience experience the language barrier, and the story is interesting. The last 45 minutes limp along, well meaning, but heavy and dragged out. The acting is wonderful (Sandler, Vega, Steele and Leachman shine), the concept is fine, but I feel like the director got bored before the movie was over.

Oh those Fockers

Yes, it has finally happened, the fateful meeting of the parents of Greg (Gaylord) Focker and Pam Byrnes. I thought this was funnier than Meet the Parents ... no, I did not care for the original film. Hoffman and Streisand, as the Fockers, are great! The plot is a little choppy, and until Jack (DeNiro) returns to CIA operative, it drags. This is nice, light fare and will be called "OK" by most Meet the Parents fans. As a stand alone film it is good holiday comedy, stay for the credits.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Cousteau and Zissou

The Life Aquatic is a tribute to Jacques Cousteau. I was raised on his work and adventures and I think he would like this film. It is a tongue in cheek look at ocean exploration. Often silly, sometimes dark, this film entertains nicely. A strong cast and clever script give Wes Anderson another dark comedy to be proud of.

Let's talk about sex

If you have an aversion to blunt talk about sex you may not like Kinsey. This frank, well done story of the man who first dared to study sex as a science AND publish the results, is no nonsense and honest. Liam Nelson, Laura Linney and Peter Sarsgaard shine as the main characters of this film. Al Kinsey approached sex and human sexuality as a science. This is the story of his struggle to be treated as a scientist, and get respect and funding for his work. His efforts to link the scientific with sociological were way before their time .... though his work is probably part of the reason we view sex the way we do today.