Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Look Ahead to Best Visual Effects

Again, continuing with my "analysis" (read: subjective comments) about each of the Oscar-nominated categories, and again, due to my not having seen a whole lot of 'em, I'm restricted in which categories I can analyse.

Here are the nominees:
- The Golden Compass- Michael L. Fink; Bill Westenhofer; Ben Morris; Trevor Wood
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - John Knoll; Hal T. Hickel; Charlie Gibson; John Frazier
- Transformers - Scott Farrar; Scott Benza; Russell Earl; John Frazier

How I did: 0% (again, forgot to predict it.)

01. Transformers
The visual effects in Transformers were really, really, amazing. The robot fights scenes took my breath away. Furthermore, the transformations from car-to-robot are amazing, without a hint of invisible wires or anything like that. If I didn’t know better, I would have actually believed it could happen. 99% of it was all done on computer with individual CGI artists working on individual transformations based on robots created from the doors, fenders, wings, headlights, and engine parts of familiar vehicles. Phew. The effects are big, bombastic, and required an underrated amount of input from the visual effects designers. Terrific VFX all around, that almost atoned for Megan Fox’s acting skills. A.

02. Pirates of the Caribbean III
After overusage of that crappy Kraken in the second film, POTC III returns to not making such a spectacle of its visual effects (in POTC II I almost felt like Verbinski was shouting “Ta da!” when he presented us with the Kraken for the first time), and it fits in with the cinematography better. I particularly liked the usage of blue screen in the final battle. B+.

03. The Golden Compass
The daemons in The Golden Compass were done really well, especially Mrs. Coulter’s malicious monkey, which filled me with dread. The daemons changing their form was also a delight to watch, though as the film went it became old news. The different worlds are intricately created, from an Arctic landscape to a large picturesque town. Sadly, though, I wasn’t that convinced by the bears, which felt a touch… pixelized. B.

Who will win: Transformers
Who should win: Transformers
Who deserved to get nominated: Harry Potter

Happy 27th, Pete!!!



Monday, January 28, 2008

All that she wants is another baby.

Screening log for (22/01/08 – 28/01/08)

Waiting for Happiness (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2002)
I waited and waited, but little happiness came from watching this film. It was slow, bleak and kind of meandering. The story – about a teenager who stops off in the unknown land of Nouhadhibou and doesn’t fit in is full of beautiful cinematography and imagery, as well as some fairly interesting supporting characters (the little boy obsessed with light bulbs was really cute), but overall, I just found it kind of boring. C.

Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005)
Despite the fact that Scarlett Johansson’s in it, I actually thought it was quite a good film! Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Matthew Goode are so handsome and the former gives an impressive performance in one of Allen’s darkest films that draws on his Dostoevsky interests in an engrossing tale of how luck means more than integrity in our world today. Filmed in London with a slightly rose-tinted look at our capital city and an array of excellent supporting performances (including a great cameo at the end by James Nesbitt), Scarlett doesn’t annoy me as much as usual, plus, she gets what she deserves. What’s not to enjoy? (Apart from the pretentious opera score. Yawn). B+

Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters is one of Allen’s most famous (and in my opinion, satisfying) dramadies, following a group of people that link back to three sisters – Hannah, Lee and Holly. Apparently a lot of this movie was influenced by events in real life, with the plot turns about the tumour scare having really happened to the director. As a result, it’s a probing look at fidelity, love and sibling rivalry. Michael Caine, who won an Oscar for his role, didn’t actually impress me that much. I preferred Woody Allen, who was at his neurotic, hypochondriac best. Mia Farrow also put in a moving performance. A really sweet and entertaining comedy drama about the importance of families. A-

Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton, 2007)
Tim Burton’s demented horror musical starts with a bang – a grisly opening sequence that absolutely demands your attention – and then it never really 100% delivers. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it a lot – Bonham Carter was terrific, and Depp, though striking a few weak notes when singing, was very scary as the vengeful barber back to get revenge on Alan Rickman, but I was never really scared. Costumes, set design and cinematography are all the intricate beauties you’d expect from a Burton film and the blood and gore really makes you squirm so overall, it’s an entertaining 120 minutes. B

Carmen (Carlos Saura, 1983)
This film contained terrific sequences of Spanish guitar playing and dancing but then when it came to the romance, it fell completely flat. The two leads had very little chemistry aside from when they were dancing together and hence the core of the film really suffered. Nonetheless, it was still an interesting look at how life can imitate art. B-

And that's it from me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Look Ahead to Best Original Song.

I’ve uploaded the four songs that I own. Freewebtown was being a bitch halfway through so I uploaded the two high Mb ones onto sendspace, which I just trust as much because their files expire after about a month. So if you want “That’s How You Know” and “Falling Slowly”, download them now.

And even if you don’t love movies that much, download these songs anyway, ‘cos you know… free music.

Here are the nominees:
· “Falling Slowly” from Once (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)
· “Happy Woking Song” from Enchanted (Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz)
· “Raise It Up” from August Rush (Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas)
· “So Close” from Enchanted (Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz)
· “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted (Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz)

The three nominations for Enchanted really help me in writing about this category because I have the music and can remember most of the scenes from this movie. I haven’t actually seen August Rush, but there’s clips of the song on YouTube, and for this category it ain’t all that important to watch the whole movie, is it?

01. "That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
With three nominations for one category, Enchanted is at risk of being last year’s Amy Adams is a Goddess.Dreamgirls, which was nominated for three songs but ultimately lost out to “I need to wake up” from An Inconvenient Truth. Nonetheless, it means that the lovely Amy Adams gets to performance come Oscar time, so all is not lost. That’s How You Know is a relatively simple Disney song about, well, how you know you’re in love. All three nominated songs work better in the movie and Amy Adams singing it to Patrick Dempsey with an array of onlookers is one of the best and funniest sequences of the movie. Amy Adams sings so well and the backing voices are so sweet that it’s impossible not to be enchanted by this song. A

02. "Falling Slowly" from Once
There was a lot of hooha over whether or not this song was eligible due to it being released earlier than the film and queries as to whether it was written especially for once. This sort of pedantry irritates me, it’s what denied “A Love that Will Never Grow Old”, one of the finest love songs of recent years, of bagging a nomination for Brokeback Mountain. But luckily, “Falling Slowly” did get nominated. Once was one of my top 5s of 2007. It’s about an Irish busker and Czech girl who make music together. Simple as. Falling Slowly is a beautiful song, sung so wonderfully in a duet by the film’s two leads, their voices completing each other’s perfectly. Some are cynical about whether the two were ever in love, but the chemistry between them when making music is unmistakable. An instrumental, vocal and lyrical delight. A.

03. So Close” from Enchanted
One of the slower songs from the Enchanted soundtrack, this ballad is 100% schmaltz, with slushy piano, slow percussion, melodramatic delivery of the lyrics and swelling strings. But its shameless romantic factor is lovely, and makes all viewers, not just the pre-teen crowd, wish for a special someone to be “so close” with. B+.

04. “Raise It Up” from August Rush
Performed by Jamia Simone Nash and Impact Repertory Theatre, Raise it Up is a catchy gospel song with some great singing by the young Nash. Apart from that, it’s quite forgettable. B.

05. Happy Working Song” from Enchanted
A fairly cute song with terrific singing by Amy Adams to reach the really high notes, but Happy Working Song definitely works much better in the film in that Mary Poppins-esque with all the animals running around (it sent the kids in the audience I was in into fits of giggles). When listening to it sat in front of the computer doing your homework, it doesn’t particularly instil any kind of work ethic into you. Kudos for Amy Adam’s dedication to the role, though, for singing it all with a straight face. She was snubbed, damnit! B-.

Who will win: That’s How You Know (Enchanted)
Who should win: That’s How You Know (Enchanted)/Falling Slowly (Once)
Who deserved to get nominated: The Hill from Once (the sole solo from Marketa Inglova, her voice is lyrical and haunting and the song is painfully beautiful) & Le Festin from Ratatouille (I don’t understand French but whatever she’s singing about, I’ll have some of that). Spider-Pig wasn’t eligible, otherwise I’d say that too.

Best Looking Bessies.



yeah, baby.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

None of the Atonement gang were nominated, but I'm predicting anyway.

SAG & DGA predictions.

Ensemble: NCFOM
Actor: Day-Lewis
Actress: Christie
Supporting Actor: Affleck
Supporting Actress: Blanchett

Looking at last year's winners for the four acting awards, it mirrored Oscar 75% with Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson. So this year, I'm also going for a 3/4 prediction on the four individual performances, with Day-Lewis, Christie and Blanchett winning the SAG and Oscar, and Affleck getting the SAG and Bardem the Oscar. (If anything, the double nominations for Supporting Actor SAG award for NCFOM may split the vote)
Funnily enough, only one of the films nominated for Ensemble actually got an Oscar nomination for Best Film. American Gangster was very meh, Hairspray was great fun, Into the Wild I've not seen but it did remain in contention for a long time up to the end, and 3:10 to Yuma was somewhat of a surprise. So I'm predicting for the strongest film of the five, No Country for Old Men, though what a party it would be if the Hairspray cast bagged it?!
As for Director Guild Award, I'm also predicting a No Country for Old Men win. Just because.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Look Ahead to Best Make Up.

I did this series last year, analysing each Oscar nominated category one by one. As I’m yet to see a few of the Oscar movies, I can only start with the smaller categories.

So, on with all the makeup!

The nominees are:
La vie en Rose (Didier Lavergne; Jan Archibald)
Norbit (Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji )
Pirates of the Caribbean III (Ve Neill and Martin Samuel)

How I did: 0% (forgot to predict it.)

01. La vie en rose
A key aspect of telling the life story of Edith Piaf is in showing her downfall, how her intensity came from a life of extremes, and how her way of dealing with personal tragedies by losing herself in the pleasures she found in not only singing, but also men, alcohol and drugs. The transformation from Cotillard has astounded many but the makeup and costume deserves a share of the winnings too. Didier Lavergne & Jan Archibald not only mould Cotillard into Piaf, her feisty spirit throughout her late 30s and 40s to create delusions of age, but they also capture her downfall. The film shows Piaf as she was in her youth, her adulthood and her last days, and the makeup is totally convincing every step of the way. B+

02. Norbit
Now naturally my intense dislike of this film should hinder my opinion of its make up, but to be fair, I have to say the work done by Baker and Tsuji does merit it a nomination above shortlisted films which included pretty good makeup work in 300 and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The makeup artists transform one of last year’s nominees, Eddie Murphy (giving a Razzie-worthy performance) into an array of gimmicky roles - from an Ophan to an Oriental guardian, and then to an extremely fat woman. None of the creations are pretty and it’s nothing truly special to the audience after the Nutty Professor but one can tell that time and meticulous detail went into it. B.

03. Pirates of the Caribbean III
I don’t remember the make-up much but I’m sure it was one of the better aspects of the movie, as the makeup artists had to convey battle wounds, fatigue, and paint on the particular features of some of the more eccentric characters. B-.

All in all, not a category that I’m unduly fussed about, and as I'm not a make-up genius or anything, my comments are quite basic; all three films are pretty much equally deserving of winning it.

Who should win: La vie en rose.
Who will win: Pirates of the Caribbean III.
Who deserved to get nominated: Atonement. (though I'm sure that when I see Sweeney Todd, I'll question why the make-up there wasn't nominated.)

This series will get good when I'm analysing a nice category, promise. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Debutantes.

A kiss is just a kiss.

First time Oscar nominees that I’m happiest about:
- Saoirse Ronan. Obvs. She’s like, the Ivana Baquero of 2007. Her blue eyes terrified me. Seems like a lovely girl too. When I’ve graduated from Uni and earnt enough money to make my own film, I’m casting her in the lead!
- Ellen Page. In the same sense as Saoirse, wonderfully talented, and seems like such a balanced girl. Not Lohanesque or Duffesque in the slightest. Her Juno was a such a terrific character and performance, she's my favourite of the five nominees.
(Two out of the three women I touted for world domination got Oscar nominated. Yay! Am sad for Amy, but at least she'll get to sing at the ceremony!)

- Michael Giacchino. Whilst the Ratatouille: 5, The Simpsons Movie: 0 scoreline infuriates me no end (especially as Finding Nemo, one of my top 20 films of all time has 1 less nomination than Ratatouille), his nomination for score was very well-deserved, and OVERDUE! He deserved to get nominated for The Incredibles and Mission Impossible III, and his work on Lost was very good too.
- Sarah Polley. I always thought she’d get nominated for her acting, but this indie chick is multitalented.
- Casey Affleck. Even though I saw Ocean’s 13 over the Christmas period and my immediate reaction to that was thinking that Clooney and Affleck should not be allowed near the Oscar ceremony, and even though I haven’t actually seen the Jesse James movie, there’s something about this actor that I really like.

And am I the only one who's really apathetic about the Lead Actory category? Without James McAvoy, I just feel like I don't care. Bah.

Thinking about it, actually, 2007 was a really good year for independent film. The two films with the most nominations [8], NCFOM and There Will Be Blood, are indies, Juno's an indie, Michael Clayton has shades of indie, and in an interview I saw, Joe Wright referred to Atonement as an independent film too. Plus, there's Into the Wild, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, etc, none of which are particularly mainstream.

Yay for independent film! [But not Lost in Translation. Never.]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh My.

Heath Ledger is dead.

Read here.

""He was found unconscious at the apartment and pronounced dead," a police
spokeswoman said.

Police are investigating whether the Australian actor, who earned an Oscar
nomination for 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, died of a drug overdose. "

Oh My. Oh My. Oh My. Oh My.

He was so, so good in Brokeback Mountain. What a waste of a magificent talent, in a death with shades of River's one.

I heard on Sky News that he "hadn't been the same after breaking up with Naomi Watts" but they were probably just stirring. They were trying to analyse reasons why he might have wanted to commit suicide, and namedropping Watts and Michelle Williams in a way that really pissed me off. I'm sure if I hadn't turned off the TV they would have gone on to blame Philip Seymour Hoffman for winning the Oscar in '06. Bloody Sky.

But... Poor Heath. :( Now his daughter is fatherless, and the movieworld are deprived of a man with massive potential.

R.I.P., good man.


I love today.

The Oscar nominations in full.

My initial reaction is delight that Atonement got in. Though part of me knows that NCFOM is a better film and wants to root for that throughout the Oscars, the other part of me is telling myself to stop being such a glory hunter and go root for Atonement, a film I've been going on about since I first saw it in August. I'm disappointed for Joe Wright (I thought he did a better directing job that Reitman on Juno and way better than Tom Gilroy for Michael Clayton), and very upset for James McAvoy, the relief that a) Keira didn't get nominated and b) Saoirse did more than makes up for that. My non-stop campaiging for her has paid off! And I thank my friend Hannah for drawing this picture; I honestly think it was this gorgeous drawing that clinched it for the Oscar voters. :-)

Elsewhere, I'm just counting the shocks. One of the biggest travesties is that Norbit is now an Oscar nominated movie. Eeep. The Simpsons Movie, on the other hand, was cruelly snubbed in favour of Surf's Up. (eh). But Laura Linney! We'd all feared that her chances were gone, but yay for her!

Anyway, bell's gone. Shall update later.

OMG Oscars!

Laura Linney!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Atonement, No Country for Old Men and Juno in the Best Film category. This must be the first time I've loved three of the nominated films.

Saoirse got it!!!! It's all cos of our hard work, I tell ya!

Keira shut out. (yay!)

Surprise nomination for Tommy Lee Jones for his other performance.

The Diving Bell & the Butterfly not as loved as I thought.

Norbit is an Oscar nominated film.

The Simpsons Movie missed a nomination for Surf's Up? Are you havin' a laff?

Jason Reitman and Julian Schnabel get director nod ahead of Joe Wright.

Sarah Polley an Oscar nominee.

Pissed off about The Simpsons, and feel a little sorry for Joe Wright, but a very cool selection this year.

There Will be Oscar Nominations for Saoirse Ronan and Kelly Macdonald but No nomination for "our" Keira.

I know Saoirse will get nominated today. Why?

- She deserves it.
- I got my friend to draw this, and if she doesn't get nominated, all that hard work will have gone to nothing:

Isn't it lovely?

Isn't it the coolest thing you've ever seen? It's lovely!!!

My friend's name is Hannah, by the way. She's going to be a famous animator in several years.

So yes. Saoirse must get nominated. GO SAOIRSE!!!!

Here are my Oscar nomination predictions in full:

Best Picture
- Atonement
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
- Juno
- No Country for Old Men
- There will be Blood

Best Director
- Joe Wright for Atonement
- Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
- Sean Penn for Into the Wild
- Ethan Coen & Joel Coen for No Country for Old Men
- Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood

Best Actor in a Leading Role
- George Clooney in Michael Clayton
- Daniel Day-Lewis in There will be Blood
- Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd
- Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
- Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild

Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
- Julie Christie in Away from Her
- Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
- Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart
- Ellen Page in Juno

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
- Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
- Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
- Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War
- Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton
- Max von Sydow in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
- Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There
- Catherine Keener in Into the Wild
- Kelly Macdonald in No Country for Old Men
- Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
- Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone

Best Animated Feature
- Persepolis
- Ratatouille
- The Simpsons Movie

Best Original Screenplay
- Eastern Promises
- Juno
- Michael Clayton
- Ratatouille
- The Savages

Best Adapted Screenplay
- Atonement
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
- Into the Wild
- No Country for Old Men
- There will be Blood


- 3:10 to Yuma
- Atonement
- The Kite Runner
- Lust, Caution
- Ratatouille

- The Assassination of Jesse James
- Atonement
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
- No Country for Old Men
- There Will Be Blood

Foreign film
- 12
- The Counterfeiters
- Days of Darkness
- The Kite Runner
- The Unknown

- Atonement
- The Bourne Ultimatum
- Into the Wild
- No Country for Old Men
- There Will Be Blood

- Atonement
- Elizabeth: the Golden Age
- The Golden Compass
- Hairspray
- La vie en Rose

- American Gangster
- The Bourne Ultimatum
- No Country for Old Men
- There Will Be Blood
- Transformers

Sound Editing
- Pirates of the Caribbean III
- Ratatouille
- Transformers

Art Direction
- Atonement
- Elizabeth: The Golden Age
- The Golden Compass
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- There Will Be Blood

- Falling Slowly (Once)
- Le Festin (Ratatouille)
- Lyra (The Golden Compass)
- Guaranteed (Into the Wild)
- That’s How You Know (Enchanted)

All in all, I'm going with what most people are predicting, with a few changes:
- I'm predicting Kelly Macdonald for NCFOM rather than Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton. Her BAFTA nomination is the only main plaudit she's gotten for the role, I know, but she was just too good to ignore. Add that to the fact that she's in the frontrunner, I think she could just be a surprise.
- I'm predicting von Sydow for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly rather than Halbrook for Into the Wild.
- Out of my Best Picture predictions are only two that I'm sure about: No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. All the other three could easily get displaced by Into the Wild or Michael Clayton, but for now, I'm going with my gut (and heart) and picking my favoured three of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Atonement and Juno.
- No James. I was realistic. :( :(

So that's that. Now all I can do is wait.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Believe in Miracles.

Screening log for:

(15/01/08 – 21/01/08)

Quite a slow week where I didn't see anywhere near the amount I hoped for due to homework, but what I did so pleased me hugely.

Intolerable Cruelty (Coen brothers, 2003)
A very underrated and enjoyable film, in my opinion. I know the general consensus is that this is a step down for the Coen brothers, but I consider it one of their funniest, most accessible films, with great turns from all involved. The supporting performances in particular from Geoffrey Rush and Cedric the Entertainer, are hilarious. Anyway, it’s a romcom that’s cleverer than it looks with a wicked twist and whilst it certainly tests the bounds of reality, I enjoyed it. B+.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)
If you can get past the opening scene which contains a really filthy act that made me think I’d stumbled into a porn film (they SO would not have allowed that in a 15-certificate movie 10 year ago!), you’ve got yourself a solid drama that is unbelievably depressing, yet makes you grateful for your slightly-crappy life. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play brothers who decide to rob their parents’ jewellery store, only for the operation to go terribly. Performances are excellent all round – I’m yet to see Charlie Wilson’s War, but Phil’s going to have to give an amazing performance to outdo his work here; for as the villain Andy, he creates a complex and pitiful character. Ethan Hawke is brilliantly twitchy and loserish and Albert Finney is heartbreaking. The plot cuts from days up to and after the botched robbery so you see the action from all points of views. Overall, gritty and painful, but generally rewarding. B.

Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
From the opening sequence with Juno walking in quasi-animated form and the song “All I Want is You” plays, I knew I was in for something special. This is one of the most heartfelt and delightful films of recent years and it really put a smile on my face. The scenario – teenager gets pregnant after first go at sex – is hardly new, but this is far removed from yer typical episode of Hollyoaks, with witty lines and genuine characters. Ellen Page is brilliant, she’s deadpan and sarcastic, yet gives Juno such heart and warmth. I think it’s a testament to her talent that she transformed such a subtle role into a potential Oscar nominee. Jennifer Garner is also lovely as the woman who desperately wants to be a mother and I’m surprised her performance hasn’t generated any award buzz. Alison Janney is good fun and Michel Cera is Crouchesque in his bumbling awkwardness and long skinny legs.

If I had any problems with the movie its that it was too slight, the dialogue sometimes felt overly American, and Juno’s best mate was somewhat of an annoying cliché of a character. But that didn’t detract from my viewing pleasure of a wonderfully sweet and, essentially optimistic movie that brought tears of happiness to my eyes. Come Oscar time, I would not be surprised to see this getting a deserved Best Film Nomination. A-/B+

Recommended Oscar clips for Ellen:
- Crying in her car.

- Letting Jennifer Garner feel the baby kicking.
- With Michael Cera on the bed after giving birth.

No Country for Old Men (Coen brothers, 2007)
Yeah, baby. After The Departed winning the Oscar last year, if NCFOM wins it this year, it really will mark the beginning of overrated hacks that are Academy voters picking a film that’s actually good, unlike didactic shite like, you know, Crash.


NCFOM is a cat-and-mouse tale, with Josh Brolin as the hunter whose found the remains of a drug-deal-gone-run, takes the money and runs, only to be pursued by psycho killer Javier Bardem. This is a thriller that really demands your attention, with some killings made out of the blue and like a dart to the audience’s heart. The cinematography from Shawshank Redemptioner Roger Deakins is the best of the year; with gorgeous shots of the beautiful but barren landscape. The sound design works a treat, really shooting any audience members who were dozing bolt upright with its sudden bursts. The direction is slow and assured, and the script, adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel would have suffered so much in anyone other than the Coens’ hands, but is realistic and blackly funny here.

Oh, and the cast. Josh Brolin is very good, giving his character depth and in later scenes really illuminating his character’s fierce determination to survive so that despite the fact that he thieved, the audience had a clear idea of who to root for. Tommy Lee Jones gets to deliver most of the “Coenesque” lines and does so terrifically; he almost exudes a sort of sad longing for the days when evil didn’t pervade. Kelly Macdonald is amazing; as with Garner in Juno I’m surprised she hasn’t generated more attention, because in the typical “wife” role she not only nails the Texan accent, but shines in every scene that she’s in. And, of course, Sr. Bardem. If I saw any other man with that haircut I’d laugh, but no one would laugh in the face of his Anton Chigurh, one of the coldest killers in history. His face is expressionless as he kills and kills and he’s completely terrifying. Utterly insane, of course, but one of the most measured performances I’ve seen.

Brutal, raw, and bloody, No Country for No Men takes your attention from the start and keeps it. A lot has been said (and whined) about the closing 20 minutes, and I will admit that I was a little disappointed that the Coens would have the climax of the movie occur off-screen, but you’ve got to commend them for choosing the sad rather than the satisfying ending.

So all in all, one of the best things I’ve seen for a while. A-

Recommended Oscar clips for Javier:
- Scene with Kelly Macdonald
- "Flip a coin"
- Scene with Woody Harrelson

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A piece of non fiction I wrote back in 2005.

I'd been on this film course as part of London's Gifted & Talented. Anyway, here's the article:

Whilst everyone else was appreciating the hot weather and free time in their holidays, 45 individuals from all over London went back to school. But this was school with a very new twist – a week in the study of Film Archetypes, that incorporated Film theory, filmmaking, and good, old-fashioned film watching.

With four very diverse films selected for our viewing, as well as a range of clips and exercises, there really was something for everyone – the boys had their eyes glued to the screen during Star Wars and the girls blubbed through Ma Vie en Rose. The leaders ensured that it wasn’t all play and that we did learn something, through the discussions after each viewing, whilst the films were still fresh in our minds. Their insightful questions helped us with our understanding of the films as well as archetypes in general.

Topics we were given talks on include archetypes in stories, narrative structure and subversive elements of cinema. Even for those who felt they knew everything they could possibly know about films, these talks were a breath of fresh air, and taught us to look deeper than we currently were. Best of all, what we learnt could be applied to more than just films – the hero’s journey was about the pathway a protagonist went through out of anything, whether it be a book, play or TV programme. So the information we picked up here would come in handy for all those going into year 11 and facing English GCSEs.

Mythology was one of the running themes throughout the week and every student was given an old tale to read and deconstruct. We saw how some of the themes in stories from thousands of years ago were still evident in the films of today, and in fact, that is why we love them.

Another one of the things that we looked deeply into was narrative theory, which incorporated ideologies such as "Marxism" and "feminism." It was quite hard to understand for us students to grasp at first, but the lessons we received were undeniably informative, and at the end I felt at home with any of the things we learnt.

Towards the second half of the week, we received the opportunities to try our hand at some filmmaking ourselves. This included scripting and storyboarding. We were given instructions and a brief outline on how to structure it, and the rest was up to us. I particularly enjoyed this process, because it was a chance for me to boss three kids about and pen my thoughts into a very self-indulgent film script, that was surprisingly, chosen as one of the best!

But the history and theory of cinema wasn’t all that we were getting lessons in – many of us improved our social skills, whether it was through making friends with people from other schools, or working as a group to formulate our own screenplays and storyboards. At one moment three of us were also receiving a (rather stern) lesson at how not to disturb everyone else during the screening of a film…

Socialising, films, heated discussion, films, air conditioning, films… this was paradise for me, and I feel I have definitely benefited from it. The next I watch a film, I won’t just be watching it for entertainment, or even solely to criticise; I will be looking out for archetypes in characters, plot structure and narrative. The London GT activity has definitely been a success. Whilst I enjoyed myself through the power of cinema and the new learning experiences, it was also a chance to meet new people, many of which were lovely, and the ones who weren't - well, they knew their films

Obscure crushes.

I’ve finally got round to watching Juno (really liked it, full comments will come on my weekly screening log on Monday), and as I predicted, thought Michael Cera to be beyond lovely. He is very underrated in the looks department, more girls need to get a crush on him and stop fancying Daniel “Romancer of the Horses” Radcliffe.

So I thought I’d put the question forward – which movie people do you consider cute/fit/handsome, but the majority would disagree with you, or have never heard of?

Here are mine:
- James Mason. It was his turn as a bad-guy-gone-good due to his love for a woman in The Reckless Moment that did it, but he was pretty darn sexy as Humbert Humbert too.

- Tate Donavan. Not too embarrassing I guess, he’s OK looking for a middle-aged bloke in Damages and The OC, but I have to admit that I only really noticed him after realising he did the voice of Hercules. We’ll leave it there.

- The History Boys that are Samuel Barnett, Dominic Cooper and Stephen Campbell Moore. Samuel Barnett was so sweet in his performance, you just wanted to give him a huge hug, Dominic Cooper was the right side of suave and cocky and Stephen Campbell Moore made me want to pick up a History book again.

- The Capote Boys, aka Bennett Miller (director), Dan Futterman (writer) and Clifton Collins Jr (he played Perry Smith.) Bennett Miller is one of the sexiest curly-haired men I’ve seen, during the Oscar season 2006, I used to watch any interviews with him intently just to gawp. Dan Futterman is not only cute as a button but also multitalented – he acts too (he appeared in weird drama Urbania and was adorable in the Fagmilion thingy in Will & Grace, a terrific play on the musical with Dan as the Audrey Hepburn of sorts), and Clifton Collins Jr just really evoked sympathy for a bad person.

- Martin Freeman, chiefly for his portrayal of Tim in The Office. Tim really is the nicest guy on the planet, and I just adored him. His cleverness and good personality is accentuated by David Brent and Chris Finch's twatiness. His loyalty to fellow worker in Wernam Hogg, Dawn, is really sweet. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant drag out their getting together over two years, but I'm glad they finally find true love.

- Tim Robbins. As with Freeman, this is mainly due to the fact that he played Andy in The Shawshank Redemption. He had a lovely, knowing smile. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s tall! Tim wasn’t too bad looking around the 90s generally, though he is kinda craggy now. (But a terrific actor, mind).

- Ethan Hawke. Probably not that obscure, but I definitely consider him an underrated looker, and would recommend him for eye candy pleasure, especially having watched Before the Devil Knows You're Dead yesterday. Shia Labeouf in the same zone - very hot, probably viewed as hot by most girls, but needs to be perved over more! He was even more fun to watch in the Transformers movie than the robots.

- Matthew Perry. He’s escaped off the radar somewhat, but when he was Chandler Bing, his jokes always made me smile.
- John Hannah. Nearly forgot him, cute British actor who either plays the annoynig sidekick role, or nice guy.

And of course, we can’t forget…

My Rupert. Big blue eyes, ginger hair, lanky, goofy, and happens to play one of my favourite characters of all time. Emma Watson, get your claws off him!

Crushes are cool!

So, that’s me! Who are your “obscure” crushes?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Your hat strategically dipped below one eye. Your scarf it was apricot

Clothes are pretty. The Costume Guild nominations, guesses for win underlined:

Best contemporary costumes:
"Blades of Glory" (Julie Weiss)
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Olivier Beriot)
"Into the Wild" (Mary Claire Hannan)
"Juno" (Monique Prudhomme)
"Ocean's Thirteen" (Louise Frogley).

Best period costumes:
"Atonement" (Jacqueline Durran)
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Alexandra Byrne)
"La Vie en Rose" (Marit Allen - posthumous)
"Sweeney Todd" (Colleen Atwood)
"3:10 to Yuma" (Arianne Phillips).

Best fantasy costumes:
"Enchanted" (Mona May)
"The Golden Compass" (Ruth Myers)
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (Jany Temime)
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" (Penny Rose)
"300" (Michael Wilkinson)

shout, shout, let it all out
January is a thoroughly miserable month. I, like most of the UK, am quite irritated and grumpy (workload, hatred of the girls in my school, and general "what's the point" ennui). I hope things picks up soon.

Life is worth living though. I suppose. Better just remind myself of that:-
Cute anime.

Cute anime.

wo ai ni.

movies are life. harry potter is life. cartoons are life. starbucks is life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

BAFTA Nomination predictions for tomorrow, and PGA fallout.

The BAFTA nominations come out tomorrow, and here are my predictions. I'm still optimistic on the Atonement front, despite the PGA-shutout (see end of post).

Into the Wild
The Kite Runner
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

The Bourne Ultimatum
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood

The Lives of Others
Michael Clayton

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The Bourne Ultimatum
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Spider-Man 3

3:10 to Yuma
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

The Bourne Ultimatum
The Lives of Others
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Kite Runner
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Shrek the Third
The Simpsons Movie

Lust, Caution
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Daniel Day-Lewis (Daniel Plainview) - There Will Be Blood
Emile Hirsch (Chris McCandless) - Into the Wild
George Clooney (Michael Clayton) - Michael Clayton
James McAvoy (Robbie Turner) - Atonement
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd) - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Angelina Jolie (Mariane Pearl) - A Mighty Heart
Ellen Page (Juno MacGuff) - Juno
Julie Christie (Fiona Andersson) - Away From Her
Keira Knightley (Cecilia Tallis) - Atonement
Marion Cotillard (Edith Piaf) - La Vie en Rose

Casey Affleck (Robert Ford) - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Geoffrey Rush (Sir Francis Walsingham) - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Hal Holbrook (Ron Franz) - Into the Wild
Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh) - No Country for Old Men
Tom Wilkinson (Arthur Edens) - Michael Clayton

Cate Blanchett (Jude) - I'm Not There
Catherine Keener (Jan Burres) - Into the Wild
Saoirse Ronan (Briony Tallis - aged 13) - Atonement
Tilda Swinton (Karen Crowder) - Michael Clayton
Vanessa Redgrave (Older Briony) - Atonement


The PGA nominations are:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

- Atonement's chances just keep getting lower and lower. Despite the morale-boosting Golden Globe win for Best Drama, it gets a shutout here, in favour of surprise contenders The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Juno.
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly might just get the lone Best Director slot this year. I read the review of it in this month's Empire, and it sounds riveting! Fashion + overcoming adversity = love. I'm dying to see it now!
- There Will Be Blood & No Country for Old Men = virtually locked. Everyone who's pushed me to see the latter, you've succeeded, because I'm seeing Juno (download) and No Country for Old Men (cinema) this weekend! And I'm very excited indeed.