Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Head Games in DVD

Out in DVD today, the story of Harold Crick is told by a voice in his head in the film Stranger Than Fiction. A strong drama / comedy with interesting views of life and love.

The Heart of the Game is based on the true story of a girl's basketball team, that also has a lot to say about life. A nice solid film.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar 2007 : the Awards Ceremony

The Kodak theater in Hollywood is a glamorous setting for the Academy Awards ceremony. The statues were in place, I was prepped and ready to go when the telecast started. Dressed in my uber-glam GAP sweatpants and Isotoner slippers, here's how the evening went down for me.

The show was painfully slow. Not sure if I was too cranked up or what, but this was the slowest Oscars ever. It ran till 12:15, yikes! I have always defended this awards show, but damn, this one hurt. When the memoriam montage comes at 11:45 you know you're in trouble. It didn't get interesting until midnight. The Departed cleaned up, and I was happy that my Little Miss Sunshine grabbed 2 gold guys. The winners are here.

Here are my superlatives:
Best gown: Cate Blanchette
Best hair: Gwyneth Paltrow
Best entrance: Rachel Weisz
Best male presence: it's a tie between Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney *sigh*
Best sport: Clint Eastwood translating for composer Ennio Morricone
Best grace on stage: Beyonce and the Dreamgirls cast did the songs proud
Best acceptance speech: Helen Mirren

The good news is, Sofia champagne is yummy!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Oscar 2007 : the Films

There is no question in my mind that the Best Picture Oscar this year should go to Little Miss Sunshine. Though it is a dramatic comedy, the layers and performances are outstanding. I'd say The Departed is the next strongest film, but the surprise winner could be Babel, All the nominees for Best Animated film are good. I'd say Cars is the most well rounded, Monsterhouse, the most creative. I haven't seen all of the Foreign or Documentary films, but I'll guess that An Inconvenient Truth and Pan's Labyrinth could win on Sunday.

Pop the popcorn, get comfy on the couch, and enjoy the awards show that can also be one of the best fashion shows of the year. A printable ballot is here so you can follow along. The festivities begin at 8PM, Sunday night on ABC. Tune in!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oscar 2007 : the People

There were so many wonderful performances this year. Many skilled actors were handed interesting roles. In the acting category the Oscar winners are pretty much a lock. Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson should all go home with the gold. Eddie Murphy has been receiving awards for months for his role in Dreamgirls. He could win on Sunday, but my pick for best supporting actor is Djimon Hounsou for his performance in Blood Diamond. I think his performance was deeper and very intense.

One of the most powerful performances this year was behind the camera. Martin Scorsese's work has thrilled me for years. I had the privilege of hearing him speak at the Tribeca Film Festival several years ago, on the topic of music in film. The man is so passionate and articulate about his work, it was quite an experience for me. He should win the Oscar for directing The Departed. The film is intricate, intense and kept me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed watching him bring together the writing, casting, camera shots and sets to tell this crazy story.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oscar 2007 : the Stories

There were many good stories in film this year. Pirates, superheroes, royalty, infidelity, family, soldiers and history, it was quite the potpourri. I have trouble writing, so I have the utmost respect for those who do it well. All of the nominees for Best Original Screenplay are Oscar- worthy, but Little Miss Sunshine won my heart. It pokes fun so tactfully, the satire so subtle, the characters so endearing. Little Children would get the statue from me for Best Adapted Screenplay. Themes of infidelity and tolerance get provocative treatment, with a wow of an ending.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

DVD Qick-Hit

Though this week is not ALL about Oscar, there are a few DVD releases too good not to be mentioned here. Flushed Away, just plain fun for the whole family, Babel, 7 Oscar nominations, For Your Consideration, a wonderful satire about, hmmm yeah, Oscars and The Prestige, Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, need I say more? Enjoy!!

Oscar 2007 : the Sounds

Then there's the sound in films. Music, narrative and sound effects create mood and help tell the story. For me, Sound Mixing goes to Dreamgirls for moving through all that music. Sound Editing I would give to Letters From Iwo Jima, the explosions and gunfire punctuated the film well. The Original Score in Pan's Labyrinth lingers in my mind. Dreamgirls generated three nominations for Original Song, the song Listen could give Randy Newman (Cars) a run for his money. I get chills every time I hear it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Oscars 2007 : the Visual

The first thing our minds turn to when we think of film, is the visual. The Oscar for Art Direction is prestigious to me because it is about the overall "look" of the film. I think the Oscar should go to Dreamgirls. The color pallets, the lighting, the costumes, the way they created the feel of the era through the look. For me, Superman Returns had the best Visual Effects this year. It looked 3D to me in it's normal format. There were so many scenes and shots that seemed to jump right off the screen. In Children of Men the Cinematography created a world of the future through lighting and camerawork. The one-take shots alone were award-worthy. I'm torn on the award for Editing between United 93, where the editing gave continuity to an otherwise chaotic circumstance, and Babel, which moves between four stories seamlessly. I was impressed with the Costumes in Marie Antoinette and the Makeup in Pan's Labyrinth was just amazing.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My Top 10 : Revised

2006 was a good year in film. I haven't added a film to my personal Top 10 Favorite list since 2004. Before the Oscar's are announced, I want to add Little Miss Sunshine to my Top 10 (sorry Sofia, Lost in Translation is now #11). Now the list reads:
1. Godfather
2. Chinatown
3. Pulp Fiction
4. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
5. Casablanca
6. Mary Poppins
7. Memento
8. Fight Club
9. Monsters Inc.
10. Little Miss Sunshine

This week I'll share my thoughts on the Oscar nominees in bite size pieces each day, and make my predictions for the award winners. Let Oscar week begin!!


Spy stories always seem so far fetched .... unless they are true. In the film Breach we are taken inside one of the largest security breaches in US history. The performances are strong and the story a little more than scary.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Factory Girl

In Factory Girl, Sienna Miller embodies the model - actress - socialite, Edie Sedgewick, in the 60's in NYC. She meets and befriends Andy Warhol. She acted, modeled, partied, abused heroin and died of an overdose at 28 years old. I thought this was an interesting look into the artist community of the 60's in NYC. In some snapshots during the credits, it is amazing how much Miller looks like Sedgewick.

Bridge to Terabithia

Staying true to the Newberry Award wining novel, Disney gives us the first solid family film of 2007 in Bridge to Terabithia. I read this book last week because of all the on-line chat about the book vs the film. The book left me in a funk for the day, because of the death of one of the characters. Very well written, very emotional. The film stays true to the book, though the character developments are very different. I think they fleshed out the relationships between Jess and his father and sister better in the film. I thought the relationship between Leslie and her parents was better served in the book. The topics of bullying, family favoritism, adolescent crushes, guilt and escape through imagination are well done in this film. There is a CGI element that is awkward and misplaced. The acting and writing is so good, they didn't have to go hi-tech, but it was OK. All of the scenes in reality were so close to what I imagined when I read the book. Well done.

Friday, February 16, 2007


F*ck is a documentary about the use of language and , specifically the word fuck. Why is it intriguing, offensive and even funny? This is explored through interviews with everyone from Pat Boone to Ice T. One of the subjects is Bill Plympton, who I run into at film festivals. He talks about the adult themes in animation. An interesting combination. Another interesting exploration is George Carlin's bit called "7 Dirty Words". Folks like Drew Carey, Janeane Garofalo, Alanis Morissette, Steve Bochco, Sam Donaldson, Ron Jeremy, Kevin Smith, Hunter S. Thompson and Bill Connolly chime in. This film is articulate and thought provoking

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Music and Lyrics

The romantic comedy is alive and well in Music and Lyrics. Drew Barrymore has become a lovely force in this genre. Though her fame came from her childhood, she has matured nicely, and her performances have too. It started with 50 First Dates, grew stronger with Fever Pitch, and she brings it home in this film. A has-been pop star needs a lyricist to write a song for a current pop sensation, and Barrymore's character helps him out, the typical rom-com story arc ensues. Hugh Grant, Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnston, Haley Bennett and Jason Antoon give dimension to this clever, light film. Not sappy, not boring, a mere 96 minutes (perfect), I thoroughly enjoyed the performances in this film. A bright spot in the dismal film releases of 2007 so far.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mob, Murder, Marie and a Man in DVD

Oscar nominees abound in DVD releases this week. The Departed, a Martin Scorsese concoction that is one of the best mob vs cop, cat and mouse stories ever told. Worthy of it's multiple Oscar nominations.

Marie Antoinette is an interesting history lesson, seen through the creative lens of Sofia Coppola. It's Oscar nomination is for the incredible costumes. I was partial to the shoes!

Half Nelson is an intense relationship drama about a drug addicted teacher and one of his students. Ryan Gosling's Oscar nominated performance gives this drama heart.

Infamous isn't nominated for any Oscars, but Daniel Craig is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his menacing performance, portraying one of the murderers in the crime that was the subject of the novel In Cold Blood. Truman Capote's life during the writing of that book is interesting stuff.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

2007 Grammy Awards .... and Film

I have been a fan of The Dixie Chicks for many years. Their album, Fly, has kept me company on many a road trip, and my dear friend B, gave me their latest, Taking the Long Way Home, for Christmas, though she is not a fan (I know it pains her). These talented ladies won many Grammy awards tonight, and I stayed up because I was so psyched they kept winning! After seeing the documentary Shut Up and Sing, this album held all new meaning for me. It was one of my favorite documentaries from 2006. This was quite a night for these gals!

Beyonce was elegant and powerful in her performance of Listen, from Dreamgirls. There is nothing like Beyonce live, and it's one of my favorite songs from the film.

BTW Justin Timberlake is an amazing performer!!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Breaking and Entering

I enjoy a good, subtle, well acted drama. The film Breaking and Entering is just that. There are struggles and extreme circumstances, when a gang keeps robbing an office. The robbers and the victims, use each other in unique ways to get what they want. Relationships are at the core of their motivation. Well done.


Goldfinger was the third Bond film with Sean Connery as James Bond, agent 007. In 1964 I was only 8 years old, so while my Grandfather was taking me to see Mary Poppins, adults enjoyed the thrill of Bond, the wicked Goldfinger and the menacing Oddjob. I've seen parts of it on TV over the years, but I finally sat down and watched the whole thing, what a pleasure! I've decided to go back in the Bond filmography and see the Bond films I've missed. A little rental actvity to entertain me .... stay tuned!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Soldiers, Scissors, Sleep and Superman on DVD

There are some great films out in DVD this week!

Flags of Our Fathers is the story of the soldiers that were on Iwo Jima in WW II. Three of them are chosen to go on a PR junket to promote war bonds. An interesting perspective on the war.

In Running with Scissors, we see the story of a young man who is coping with no family support in those all important adolescent years.

The Science of Sleep is a film that depicts dreams in relation to the real world. The lines become blurred, this is a very creative film.

And finally, in Hollywoodland we see the rise and fall of George Reeves, one of my favorite actors to play Superman.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


In 1971, a young director was handed a "movie of the week" project by ABC, and turned a short story about a truck stalking a man on the Pacfic Coast highway, into a suspense classic. The director was Steven Spielberg, the film was Duel. I remember seeing (and loving) this film on TV back in the early 70's, so I grabbed the DVD when I saw it on the bargain rack. I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon watching the extra features, and then the film. It's still awesome! Spielberg speaks at length about making this film at the ripe old age of 24. It is fun for me to listen to a passionate director talk about camera shots, casting, studio politics and influences on subsequent projects. He tells a great story about using the same sound during the demise of the truck, as he did when they kill the shark in Jaws, as sort of an homage to his first feature length film.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Top 10 Films of 2006

I'm finally ready to post my Top 10 films of 2006. As usual, I had trouble narrowing it down, so I'll start with 10, then give you more films worth seeing from this year ...... enjoy!
(Click on the name of the film to read about it.)
1. Little Miss Sunshine
2. The Departed
3.Neil Young:Heart of Gold
4. The Queen
5. Babel
6. The Illusionist
7. Pirates of the Caribbean:Dead Man's Chest
8. A Scanner Darkly
9. Children of Men
10. Akeelah and the Bee

Oh, that was hard! These also made 2006 a good year in film .........

There's good family fare in Charlotte's Web, Monster House and Cars.
For the sports fan I liked Invincible, We Are Marshall, Glory Road, The Heart of the Game and Rocky Balboa.
Don't forget the action heroes in SupermanReturns, V for Vendetta and Casino Royale.
Highly entertaining, are The Devil Wears Prada, Kinky Boots, Talledega Nights, Dreamgirls and Borat.
My documentary darlings are Wordplay and Shut up and Sing!
And, oh, the drama! Blood Diamond, The Last King of Scotland, Volver, United 93, Find Me Guilty, Notes on a Scandal, Pan's Labyrinth, The Painted Veil, World Trade Center, Hard Candy, Little Children, Half Nelson and Venus will make you think.

Hey, it's less than 50, enjoy!!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Groundhog Day

It took me more than a decade to see the film Groundhog Day. When I finally did, I was so impressed with the treatment of human growth and decency. A wacky time-fold story that finds an obnoxious man waking up on the same day over and over, with the promise of fixing mistakes he has made in the past. He stumbles a bit, but gets another chance each time that alarm clock goes off. On this Groundhog Day (or any day) this is an uplifting film.

Catch and Release

I liked the film Catch and Release more than I expected. A young woman's fiance dies just before her wedding. Her friends are grieving also, but they support her as best they can. It is soon reveled that her fiance has more money than she knew, and was involved with another woman. The story does not follow the typical romantic comedy formula, the characters actually have some dimension. Like The Breakup, I think the marketing for this film is off. This is a drama that looks at loss, coping, expectation and love.