Best TV Show That I Just Watched

Best TV Show That I Just Watched
Parks & Recreation

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Live Oscar Blogging

Starting the E! red carpet-

Jennifer Lawrence looks very nice in her simple red dress

Mila Kunis- the lace on the boobs is strange, but looks nice

Amy Adams- looks very nice witha great color

Michelle Williams- a little strange- hair too short and she can't communicate

Art Direction- Alice in Wonderland
This was my pick- an amazing world created

Cinematography- Inception
Definitely deserved it, and I have no problems with this winning. I was shooting for Black Swan in this category, but Inception was a very close second

Supporting Actress- Melissa Leo
Again, can't argue- she was fabulous- I was pulling for Helena Bonham Carter but any of the Leo-Carter-Adams-Steinfeld who would have won, I would have been happy

Animated Short- The Lost Thing

Animated Feature- Toy Story 3
TS 3 deserved it, but Dragon was a sentimental pick since it was the last film I saw with my dad.

Adapted Screenplay- Aaron Sorkin-Social Network
This is the one which I felt VERY strongly about. As you listened to Sorkin's speech, it was easy to see that he was the man who writes my favorite scripts

Original Screenplay- King's Speech
Really? This was more original than Inception? Kings Speech was actually very formulaic- well done- but not most original

Foreign Film- In a Better World

Supporting Actor-Christian Bale- The Fighter
Definitely deserved it- an amazing performance!Rush was supporting, Bale was the actor- Loved him!

Score- Social Network
This was my 3rd favorite behind Dragon and Inception, but it is still a fabulous score that I listen to all the time

Sound mixing- Inception
No other real option

Sound editing- Inception
The only other option was Unstoppable, but this was my choice- amazing sound!

Makeup- Rick Baker
Yay! The man wins again!

Costume Design- Alice in Wonderland
Again- Best costumer wins!

Documentary Short- Strangers No More

Short Film- Live Action- God of Love

Documentary Feature- Inside Job
I would have loved to see Exit Through the Gift Shop win, just to see what might have happened, but I have not seen any of the others

Visual Effects-Inception
Any real competition?

Best song- Randy Newman- We Belong Together
Very good song- along with it also fitting into the actual story and film, its a fun song
Is Randy Newman becoming Buddy Hackett as he gets older?

Director- Tom Hooper- King's Speech
I loved the film, but didnt feel that it did anything special with the directing. The cast carried this one

Actress- Natalie Portman
This was easily the best and hardest performance of the year and a great performance for Ms. Portman

Actor- Colin Firth
Was there any tension? Although I feel many others did just as good of work, but this was a foregone conclusion. He was very good and deserved the recognition for bringing the speech patterns out so well.

Film-King's Speech
Again, I personnally was rooting for Social Network to win, but I can't argue with King's Speech. It was an easier film to like and understand and had a main character you could really get behind, root for, and see yourself as the underdog.

Final tally-

King's Speech-4
Inception- 4
Social Network- 3
Fighter- 2
Toy Story 3- 2
Black Swan- 1

Oscar Predictions

This week has been dedicated more to the Dentist and watching movies then writing about the movies. I will make my Oscar predictions now before the show starts and will give my explanations in depth next week as I write the reviews of the nominated films. The first choice is what I want to win, my second is what I think will win. If there is only 1 title, I both want it to win and think it will win.

Animated Feature- Toy Story 3
Art Direction- Alice in Wonderland
Cinematography- Black Swan, True Grit (I would be fine with either)
Costume- Kings Speech, Alice
Editing- Social Network, 127 Hours
Makeup- Wolfman
Score- Social Network, How to Train Your Dragon
Song- We Belong Together
Sound Editing- Inception
Sound Mixing- Inception
Visual Effects- Inception
Adapted Screenplay- Social Network
Original Screenplay- Inception, Kids Are Alright
Actor- Colin Firth
Actress- Natalie Portman
Supp Actor- Christian Bale, Geoffrey Rush
Supp Actress- Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo
Director- David Fincher
Picture-King's Speech

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oscar Nominated Films- Capsule Reviews 1

With the Oscars coming up, I am going to attempt to make a full review of many of the Oscar Nominated Films before the big night (February 27th) along with my picks for this year’s Oscars which I will post on the 27th before the show.
However, while there are a bunch of them that I will do full reviews for (I have already posted my review of Black Swan), there are also several about which I have not much to say.
So: here are my capsule reviews of a bunch of the Oscar Nominated films:

Wolfman- Nominated for Best Makeup- Rick Baker
For those who have no idea, this film is a about Lawrence Talbot who returns to his ancestral home for the funeral of his brother, who was murdered in a grisly fashion. While investigating the murder, Lawrence is attacked by a vicious wolf and starts turning into a werewolf. He must hide this fact from the police, his family, and his burgeoning love interest while he attempts to solve his brother’s murder and stop the transformation taking place inside him.
While not a classic film by any means (and, taking it as a whole, not even close to the original 1933 film), there is still much to like here. It is nominated for Best Makeup by Rick Baker and it fully deserves the nomination! While there is some CGI wolf work here, during the actual battles, it is the actors in wolf makeup doing the terrorizing. With that in mind, along with the great detail in the wolf outfits, this is a must see for makeup fans.
Rick Baker has been nominated for 12 Oscars, winning 6 times. Infact, the Best makeup Award was created specifically because of his amazing work on 1981’s American Werewolf in London , one of his wins. The other wins were for How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Men in Black, Nutty Professor, Ed Wood, Harry & the Hendersons, and Werewolf in London. Other notable credits include 1976’s King Kong, Star Wars, Howling, Videodrome, Michael jackson’s Thriller, Coming to America, Gorillas in the Mist, Wolf, batman Forever, Frighteners, Planet of the Apes- 2001 version, Men in Black 2, Hellboy, The Ring, Cursed, Click, Enchanted, and Tropic Thunder, to name only a few. He is one of the grand masters of Makeup.
I also enjoyed Danny Elfman’s score, and I am really enjoying all the work of Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving is great playing the “bad” good guy (the policeman trying to discover who is killing innocent victims). . Benicio DelToro does a great job while in the wolf makeup, but, amazingly, is not very convincing out of it. Anthony Hopkins chews the screen as well.
The film works about 50% of the time- not enough to make it a misunderstood classic, but more than to be an utter failure.

Movie Rating- 5
Film rating- 3
Makeup rating- 10

Unstoppable- Nominated for Sound editing
This is a Tony Scott directed, forgettable action film. However, while you are watching it, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. 3 years from now, no one will remember exactly which film it is, but it is fun for what it is.
Chris Pine (Star Trek) plays a new engineer who is training with longtime engineer Denzel Washington. Of course, they are not getting along and they each have personal issues which raise their ugly head on this day.
Then they get word that a train is barreling down their track, with no engineer on board and since Pine made an error on length of their train, they must head straight toward it and try to make it to a turn off where they will have room to pull off the track. While communicating with a rail traffic control supervisor (Rosario dawson) they come up with a plan to stop the train.
This film jumps from problem/resolution to problem/resolution, but the actors keep it interesting and the film is very tightly edited to keep the tension building throughout. It is an amazing Friday night rental, just don’t expect to remember much about it in 2014.
Unstoppable is nominated for Best Sound Editing and, in the theater and I am sure on the newly released DVD and BluRay versions, the sound keeps you engrossed in the film. A definite solid nomination, but all other candidates are strong as well.
Movie Rating- 8
Film Rating- 5

Illusionist- Nominated for Best Animated Film

The Illusionist has a sweet, mellow story and is not interested in any of the high flying action of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, or any of the comedic setpieces of ‘Toy Story 3’. This is more of an animated film for adults and, while very intriguing and interesting, and never a waste of time, it also shoots for, and slightly misses, the emotional heft of ‘TS3’.
It is mostly a “pantomime” type of film- not with the annoying white-face-painted guys- but very very little dialogue. It is not “silent” as there are tons of sound effects to put you in the middle of a nearly empty theater watching a magician ply his trade, or the wind rustling through the trees as he sits on a hill in the countryside. But dialogue is not what this is here for. It is here to tell the story of a lonely travelling magician who meets a maid who is lonely as well. It could be called a love story, but even that is a slight misnomer, as it is more about connecting than love.
The animation is fabulous, even if it is not a type of animation I enjoy. I don’t even know how to describe it, but it is fluid, yet the “lines” are continually moving as well as the action.
This nomination is again very well deserved, but as a whole, it does not add up as high as the other 2 previously mentioned, and also both nominated, animated fiolms.
Movie Rating- 6
Film Rating-7

Country Strong- Nominated for Best Song “Coming Home”

This is a frustrating film. For every thing it does right, it gets another wrong and the ending feels forced upon the script instead of letting it naturally happen to the characters- and the ending gave me a slight sour taste in my mouth as I left the theater while it was much better than I felt it was while leaving the theater.
Gwyneth Paltrow plays a country star who is being taken out of rehab a month early by her manager/husband (Tim McGraw)to get back on the road and show she can make it out in the real world. Two other up-and-coming country stars join her as her opening acts. One is a volunteer at her rehab facility who plays in local clubs for the pure love of the music (Garret Hedlund), the other is a rising ex-beauty queen who has a tremendous amount of stage fright but looks great up on stage and who can sing, if she can handle her fear.
All of the main actors play their own instruments and do their own singing which is very impressive and lifts the film up from what could have been a lip and motion synced musical performance film.
The actors all acquit themselves very nicely and make you feel as if the charaxcters are real human beings. No one is perfect and no one is evil. Throughout the film, as you learn more about each character, it gives a slightly different shading to each character and to the film as a whole. At the end, none of them are the 2 dimensional characters that you first met at the beginning of the film. Paltrow never goes off the rails in her portrayal of an alcohol loving star, but plays it quite well. This is the type of role which could have screamed “Oscar bait”, but she is smart and downplays several scenes which actually make the character that much more heart breaking.
Unfortunately, in other ways, the script doesn’t let the characters live. Certain situations are imposed on them purely to bring each character to a “decision point” and it felt almost like they were asked to write a script which had points A, G, I, Q, T,U, and Z in it, but could connect them any way they wanted.
A mix of classic country songs and songs written just for this film are played over the soundtrack and on the stage. The ending place of 3 of the 4 major characters seem almost like it is a foregone conclusion and, as I said earlier, mars the proceedings, even when it is not really that much of a dealbreaker.
Coming Home, the nominated song, is the strongest of the original songs and does play an important part in the film, not just played over the end credits. It is a solid song while watching the film, but not one you will be humming as you finish the film. I still have a couple of the nominated songs to hear, but, again, a worthy nomination, but probably not my favorite.

Movie rating- 6
Film Rating- 6

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Words, werds, wurds

George Carlin had a famous bit called “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.” The list, in the early 70’s was- Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Three of them are now regularly used on “basic cable”. One of them is used regularly on BBC America because it does not have the same connotation that it has in America (just like ‘bloody’ for us Yanks, only in reverse, and yet those 2 words could go together), one of them is a compound word which has been said on TV before but which still causes problems because of the imagery involved, and then the two words which use the big F-word in it.
Again, as Carlin said, there are over 400,000 words in the English Language. Those 7 words, must be really horrible and awful. Those 7 will curl your spine and turn you into a really horrible and awful person.
I think we give all of those words, especially the BIG F-WORD, way too much power over us.
I am coming to really hate the hypocrisy of those people who feel that substitution is an acceptable form of using that word. There are many who use different versions of the word and feel that those are perfectly fine to say- frak, frick, effing, and fetching come to mind. When those substitutions are used, we all know what is being said, whether explicitly or not.
Why am I writing about this right now? It’s because of the Motion Picture Association of America. The MPAA.
This post is a PG-13 rated article. Yet, I’ll bet there are some of you that are already feeling very squeamish about it. Why? Because “that word” has been used 3 times already. However, the MPAA would rate this PG-13. The otherwords which are included in the "7 words list" can all be used in PG-13 films as well.
(For an amazing documentary to learn about the ratings system and the MPAA watch ‘This Film Is Not yet Rated.)
None of the uses of that word have been used in any sexual connotation (I never intimated in any real way that intercourse was happening between a boy and the person who gave birth to him, so that use in the list was purely of a non-sexual , expletive, nature). If the F word is used three times or less in a non-sexual way, the film can still be rated PG-13. If it is used once in a sexual way, or 4 times in a non-sexual way, the film would get an R Rating.
Does it matter in what way the word is used? Isn’t it the same word? If it hurts me to hear it once, based on how it’s used, won’t it hurt me the same amount if it’s the same word used in a different context?
Well, there you go. This article would now get an R rating by the MPAA, even though I have not used it to detail any intimate goings-on. This article is now considered by many to be beyond good taste. You should stop reading now because your mind will be forever altered by the content of it.
I am now going to continue writing even though I know that there are some who will no longer read it because it is already filling them with discomfort.
Still reading? Why? I have now said the word fuck four times (oops, now five) and we are now way beyond any modicum of good morality for this article.
In today’s world, with no backlash at all, children under 17 can hear violently divisive diatribes about politics, sex, religion, and race. 16 year olds can drive a car and, more than likely, use the kind of language while driving that they are being forbidden to hear at the theater.
I could even “talk shit” about the team who is going against my favorite sports team this afternoon. When my team fumbles the ball, I could say “What the hell?” or “Oh, shit!” and only get a disapproving look or a tsk-tsk from my wife (well, not MY wife, exactly)). I could cheer when the quarterback for the other team gets sacked and may have his arm broken (especially if it’s the guy from BYU or U of U depending on your political leaning) and not be called into question.
I could yell at my kid and tell him to just shut up because I am sick of him crying for gum since he is already chewing it (something that I heard last night at work), I could honk my horn really loudly and flip someone the bird who cut me off in traffic, I could harangue about someone cutting in front of me at the bank for hours because I was not quite (but almost) ready with my deposit slip and it took me an extra 3 minutes to get to the teller, and I am a normal person.
But, I say the word fuck 5 times (now six) and our children should not be allowed to hear what I have to say.
George Carlin was always an advocate for freedom of speech. He, and some of his contemporaries on the stand-up stage were thrown into prison for saying certain things.
The MPAA feels that it is more appropriate for your child of 13 to see a film about demon possession and exorcism (The Rite and The Last Exorcism), a serial killer stalking a teenage girl at her prom (Prom Night), dinosaurs terrorize and kill people when they escape from their zoo-like enclosures (Jurassic Park), a woman leaves her husband and travels the world for good food, spirituality, and sex (Eat Pray, Love), cheer for an indigenous people to kill many, many groups of humans threatening their way of life(Avatar), have giant robots destroying buildings in downtown LA (which I am sure were all condemned and in which no human collateral damage was caused) in Transformers, have an artist sketch a topless woman (Titanic), show many fantasy creatures be beheaded or mutilated but get a PG-13 because their blood is black not red (an artistic decision used by director Peter Jackson to ensure a PG-13 rating) in Lord of the Rings, rather than a film where a leader attempts to improve himself, learn about friendship, trust and loyalty, and say the dreaded word a bunch in an effort to overcome a weakness of his.
I could use the word shit or goddamn 150-500 times in a PG-13 rated film, but as long as the “queen mother of all dirty words” was not used, it could still get a PG-13 rating.
I could show the actual act of sex, as long as it was all under the covers or only showing what is referred to by the MPAA as brief or partial nudity.
I have experienced this week, people talking about “effing up” one thing or another, one person who could not get the “mother eff-er” to do what they wanted- and this was at a family gathering!
Yet, in discussing ‘The King’s Speech’ today with them, they talked about how it would have to wait until it came out on DVD and they could watch it on a “Clear-Play” machine, so that they would not have to see it in its R-Rated version.
The only reason that ‘The King’s Speech’ is Rated R is because the word fuck is used about 15-20 times in a speech therapy session to get a man who stutters to trust his therapist and to get a flow of language going so that he may actually speak. The director himself came out in a statement today regarding that scene and feels that it shows the trust which is building between the man and his therapist, and is a scientifically proven speech therapy method which is used. Groups have asked that scene to be cut and the director feels strongly that it should not be edited.
And, because the MPAA, and many people, give that one word such power, The King’s Speech is rated R.
And, because many people do not want to see R Rated films, then they are allowing the MPAA to decide what films are okay for them to see. The MPAA’s ratings board do not all have children and thei r values may not match our own, and yet we are still allowing them to say which movies we can see.
If you only want to see “quality, uplifting” entertainment- I am fine with that. But, I do not feel that a blanket statement should be made about ratings and the MPAA deciding what you should and shouldn’t watch based on their random rating system. You should research a film, discover why it is rated the way it is (whether R or even PG) and decide for yourself if that is a film, or a story, that is uplifting or of quality for you.
I am Mormon and believe strongly in its teachings. However, if a movie were to be made exactly based on the things described in the Book of Mormon, it would be a very R rated film. Yet, it is still a quality and uplifting work, just like many R rated films.
Robots from outer space beating the crap out of each other for a third time this summer will doubtless be rated PG-13 which will automatically make it a piece of quality, uplifting entertainment that many will flock to.
The King’s Speech is a film which teaches history, love, respect, dignity, friendship, trust, and honor in a film that I feel is uplifting. It is very well-made which makes it a piece of quality film making in my opinion. I feel this film should be seen by everyone and that the language is not used in a sexual, or hurtful, or damaging way.
But it is Rated R which means that it will damage and hurt our morals and values and will be destructive to our children.