Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coming Down the Mountain, among other things.

Nicolas Hoult makes a far cry from his bumbling sidekick in About a Boy and cocky protagonist in Skins here, as the angst-ridden teenage who is always having to play second fiddle in his parents' affections due to his brother Ben, who suffers from Down's Syndrome. 

When he is uprooted from his North London home and recently procured girlfriend to live in Derbyshire, Ben's resentment and hatred towards his brother grow and grow, before he decides to take Ben onto a camping trip to "teach him a lesson", but learning more about himself in doing so.

Well-acted, gripping, efficiently paced and sharply written, Coming Down the Mountain proved to be a very satisfying watch, with Hoult giving a heart-wrenching performance but in particular Tommy Jessop shining as his disabled brother. Mark Haddon, who wrote the beautiful The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time, has done a good job with the script here, though the "descending into self-harm" vignette made me roll my eyes a little; very, very cliche. Apart from that, strong work all round.

Other TV I've been watching is this show that I've had recommended to me, Gilmore Girls. I saw the pilot, and I can't say I'm that impressed. Its brand of quick-fire dialogue and witty repartee amused me at first but then I just thought it weird and not at all realistic. I'm a big fan of Alexis Bledel so I may continue watching, but it's going to have to do more than just make comments about society to grab my attention.

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Lastly, is this the most awesome vintage poster you've seen? I think it's definitely up there.

My Favourite Performances of 2008.

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

when ___- ____ w-n- ____ I lol'ed

So, there they were. If my choices make you go wtf like Colin, by all means, share yours.

Amazing quote from The Hottest State.

A lot of bad things are going to happen to you. First off, you’re going to die. So, that said, there’s not much to worry about. No matter what else happens, you really only have two options: you can either handle things well and be happy, or you can handle them poorly and be miserable.

dsfdfdfdf

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Top 10 Films of 2008.

lol



2008 wasn't quite as golden for cinema as I'd hoped; there were lots of films that I had a whole lot of anticipation for, but turned out to be bitter disappointments. My taste in cinema also took a bizarre turn in 2008, in some senses, it became more pretentious (I upped the number of obscure movies I watched), but I also watched a whole lot more mainstream stuff. On the whole, sadly, I ended up watching a tonne o' crap. Here are ten films that I geniunely liked -

10. Step Up 2: The Streets
Wait, wait, hear me out, people. I know this film was no masterpiece. The poor acting (Briana Evigan, the female lead, has a starring role in the upcoming straight-to-video outing S. Darko. Can't wait for it, should be hilarious), bland plot, predictable romance plot and general tackiness of this teen dance romp. In fact, had it not been for two things, this film cold easily find its way onto the other top 10. But those two things: the soundtrack and the dance sequences - render this film one of the most enjoyable, enthralling and entertaining films of the year. As the track Get 'Em flows to become Timbaland's Bounce, before changing to Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine and back to Bounce again, the cast of the film have a massive dance off in the rain, and it is a wonderfully constructed piece of cinema.

09. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It took two viewings of Forgetting Sarah Marshall for me to realise how much the film meant to me. The first time I saw it was a week after my 18th birthday, and I thought it OK, fairly amusing, but a nothing special piece of cinema. Fast forward eight months or so, and all sorts had happened in my life, not least me going through a similar ordeal to the film's protagonist. And in seeing myself in Jason Segel's hapless schmuck Peter, the film started striking emotional chords with me. Suddenly the film could do no wrong for me - I deeply enjoyed everything about it, from the crass sex jokes (I now ask every girl who sports a pearl necklace if they got it from their boyfriend), the tender romantic moments, Segel's comic timing, the various subplots, and best of all, Mila Kunis' standout turn as Rachel, the girl that shows Peter - and the viewers - that it's no use being hung up over someone who's not right for you, and that, in due time, you will find the right person.

08. Il Divo
The best Italian political piece since The Conformist, Il Divo follows Guiseppe Andreotti's seventh term as Prime Minsiter. He's a ferocious man who believes the end justifies the means, and is willing to do the odd underhand thing (or nine) to achieve what he believes to be good in the long run. Technically very strong (Il Divo is scored, filmed and edited with a sort of grandeur appropriate to the film), it was the events in the film that caught my attention the most; they are completely unpredictable and kept me on my toes throughout. A little of the power of the film gets sadly lost in translation, but it still remains a compelling and deeply thought-provoking watch. Not that you can't, but keep an eye on the main character; Toni Servillo gives what is easily one of the finest performances of 2008, and, along with Pat Shortt for Garage, the best male lead.

07. Happy-Go-Lucky
Also known as "the film that Sally Hawkins was robbed of an Oscar for", it stars Hawkins as the lovable Poppy, a primary school teacher living in North London who sees the good in everything and everybody. Her hyper bubbliness is considered irritating by the odd tit around her, not least her grumpy bigot of a driving instructor, Scott. The film focuses on various adventures of Poppy, whether it be in her profession as a primary school teacher, her dance classes, or her driving lessons with Scott, who is one sour grape she can't sweeten. Poppy might just be one of the best characters Mike Leigh has sculpted: she's lairy, a nutter, loving, sweet, very annoying, but with a heart of gold. With Hawkins winning our hearts in the lead, this film is every bit the light-hearted, occasionally moving, funny and bright film that Leigh intended it to be, at the same time ending things on a quietly melancholy, bittersweet note.

06. Man on Wire
James Marsh's Oscar-winning documentary is all about one man: Philippe Petit, and his tightrope walking amazingness. Shot with a cinematographic flourish, the film contains old footage, interviews with all involved, re-enactments, all edited together beautifully. I can only dream of having as much spirit as Petit, though I'm proud to say that I probably match him in the madness stakes. He is the centrepiece of Man on Wire, and I found his crazy determination absolutely wonderful, a brilliant example of the power of dreams, and what we can achieve if we put our minds to it.

05. Bigga than Ben
Peter Bradshaw was far from impressed by this one, but for me, this is my favourite film with the word "Ben" in it. The film charts two lads from Russia, dubbed "Moscow scum", who arrive in London, ready to make a bit of easy money. They soon realise that that is about as likely as Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio living out the American Dream in Revolutionary Road, so, with the aid of two alleys, they bung about uselessly, nicking stuff, ripping off banks, turning mobiles into dope and getting high. Shot on 16mm and produced by an independent company, Bigga than Ben is a cheap film, and it doesn't try to deny otherwise - just look at the chavvy title. But what it does offer is a non rose-tinted look at England's capital, suggesting it to be overrated and full of criminals, plus the film gradually conceding that no-one can survive on the life of crime forever, as witnessed when the realism kicks and one character becomes drug-addicted and things turn sour. And, amongst far too many films that have almost choked on its own self-importance, BTB is the most intentionally hilarious film of the year.

04. Somers Town
The title of this film is a place in Camden Town, where Marek, a Polish immigrant, lives with his father. A spot of luck would have him meet Tomo, a lad from the usual "troubled background" that has run away from the Midlands. Together, they begin a curious friendship, as Tomo shows Marek the ropes, which involves petty theft, the odd errand-running, and lusting after a French waitress at their local cafe. Shot in a grainy black-and-white, it has the look of a docudrama, and what with the banal and funny things the boys get up to (one catching the other mid self-bung, exchanging fake replica Arsenal shirts), this is a humble piece from Shane Meadows, but a clever, charming coming-of-age pic at that. Turgoose and Jagiello, the two male leads, are both winning and engaging in their performances, which are by turn full of life and witty, yet full of sad undertones. Along with Bigga than Ben and Happy-Go-Lucky, Somers Town completes my trio of lovely films that make me pine for and remember the fugliness of London.

03. Eden Lake
Jack O'Connell, who plays the chav-in-chief of Eden Lake, is currently on British TV screens, as Cook in Skins, this twatty knob who treats his friends like turd, acts out on a whim, and has no aim in life apart from to get pissed and stoned. His character in Eden Lake is ten times worse. Now imagine encountering him, and all his cronies, constantly terrorizing you as you were trying to have a nice weekend away with the boyfriend, because this is what happens to Kelly Reilly's Jenny in James Watkins' horror/realism piece. What really makes one shudder about Eden Lake (aside from the close-up scenes of sadistic violence) is how close to home it hits; everyone has crossed the road to avoid a bad encounter with a group of rowdy drunkards; what would come if those drunkards had noticed you crossing the road and started a fight? Kelly Reilly, our heroine, plays a brilliantly resourceful character who I was rooting for throughout, in the same way I was rooting for the chavs to gtfo and just die. But this is Nottingham, not Hollywood, and things don't quite work out like that. After all, those chavs were carrying knives.

02. Slumdog Millionaire
Skins again, this time with the actor playing the group clown Anwar stepping into a complete different role: as love-struck Jamal, who goes on Indian Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to win the love of his childhood friend, Latika. If I remove my hormone-tinted-glasses, I'd have to say that, Dev Patel isn't all that good in it, but that doesn't matter, because the rest of the film more than redeems his occasionally wooden performance (and despite not troubling Oscar any time soon, he did what he had to do in his acting). We are told from the start that Jamal's adventure is in the stars, "it is written", but that doesn't make his adventure, and the flashbacks of his tumultuous and frequently lonely childhood any less compelling. The cross-cutting between the gameshow and how Jamal came to know the answers to the questions are absolutely inspired, and with many a visual flourish (Boyle makes subtle nods to many of his previous films) and an aurgasmic soundtrack (Paper Planes never sounded so good, but having the film start to O Saya and ending with Jai Ho is a sign of pure genius), Danny Boyle took me on one unforgettable voyage, charting from playing cricket in the slums, to running for their lives from a young age, witnessing one of their mates be blinded, as well as continually finding - but then losing the love of his life. The romance was simply the icing on an already very delicious cake; the kiss between Patel and Pinto felt so, so rewarding. The most deserving Best Picture winner this side of The Departed.

01. WALL-E
No Country for Old Men, The Shawshank Redemption, 2001: a Space Odyssey, Spirited Away, Monster's Inc, Artificial Intelligence: AI and There Will Be Blood. These are just some of the films that I was reminded of when I watched Andrew Stanton's animated masterpiece. That is not to say he ripped these films off, simply that it has all the good qualities of previous outings in cinema, as well as sporting a fresh, new romantic storyline of its own. You know the story by now: lonely robot on desolate Earth finds love in another robot, a beautiful pod named Eve. I embarked on WALL-E's adventure with him; I was happy when he was, sad when he was, excited when he was, and fell for Eve just as much as he did. Along with the luscious visuals, Thomas Newman's score that fully evoked feelings of the intergalactic, and sensible yet serious plot about the disintegrating state of humanity due to pollution, this is a better animated film than 99% of those out there, and one of the finest romances to grace our screens.
If I get my work done in time, tomorrow it shall be my top 10 performances of 2008. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Is this a sick joke?

The Oscars 2009 – My Report.

Right, I have an 8.15 lecture tomorrow so my immune system is not going to be happy about me staying up to type up my report, but hey, I’m doped up on Red Bull and still riding the Oscar high, so, pah!


< - Brad and Angie looking lovely. Luke and I were expecting them to be oh-so-smug today, but they seemed geniunely down to earth and affable.



(If you missed em, the Oscar winners are identical to my predictions bar one - I predicted Rourke and Penn won. So, a copy & paste job:
Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Screenplay: Milk
Best Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Song: Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Costume: The Duchess
Best Make-Up: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Sound Mixing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
Best Foreign Film: Departures
Best Animated Feature: Wall-E
Best Documentary: Man on Wire )


So. 1.15 am, I was sat in my good friend Luke’s bed watching Claudia Winkleman and Gok Wan talking through the fashion of the Oscar guests. As neither of us gets Sky Cinema, we’ve opted to watch the Oscars on a 4-inch stream thanks to Justin. Tv, which we connect up to the plasma screen TVs we get in our rooms, so it actually looks rather good.

Anyway, to start, I had to endure a bit of endless prattle from the three guests that Winkleman had on Sky: Stephanie Beacham, a mediocre British actress who only appears in shite like Bad Girls, and two other people. It was really rather mortifying.

But still. The 81st Academy Awards are in full swing, to the sound of giddy orchestral strings. Hugh Jackman comes on, laid back and jovial. He gives his obligatory Australia joke: “I’m an Australian that played an Australian in a film called Australia”, he declares proudly. Next comes a song outlining some of the main movies of 2008: Slumdog Millionaire: “I’m only here so I can phone a friend.” Next, Milk (spelt MILIK) and The Dark Knight get mildly ribbed, before Jackman stands behind a screen with five gaps for heads as he mimics Brad Pitt’s character aging backward in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He then dons arm guards and does an impression of Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler and everyone has a good laugh. Anne Hathaway joins in with Jackman, and she has a very good set of pipes on her, hitting the high note well, and giving room for the amusing idea of Frost/Nixon slash. The stage looks sparkly and expensive, albeit a little garish with the countless crystal chandeliers dangling about like grapes on a vine.

The first category to be presented is Best Supporting Actres. There is a montage of previous Best Supporting Actress winners, before five of the winners – Whoopi Goldberg, Tilda Swinton, Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn and Angelica Huston come on to each speak about each five of the Oscar nominated performances. For Penelope Cruz’s performance as Maria Elena, it is said that “emotionally we understand everything.” Whoopi Goldberg evokes good ol’ memories when she jokes, “It’s not easy being a nun”. Tilda Swinton irritates me. A lot.

The winner is… Penelope Cruz!! “This is gonna be longer than 45 seconds”, she warns the audience, and we share an appreciative chuckle. Firstly, she thanks Pedro Almodovar; rightly so, he is the one who believed in and loved her more than anyone else did, and wrote roles especially for her. Her speech is nice and she refers to art as a form of unity, before the six women walk off, side by side, a bit like a geriatric Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants + 2. I'm so, so proud of and happy for Penelope Cruz though. My favourite female supporting performance of 2007, Saoirse Ronan in Atonement, didn't win. My favourite female supporting performance of 2006, Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada wasn't even bunging nominated. This is a redemption of that.

“No lights, no sets, just the imagination of the screenwriters” says Hugh Jackman, as Tina Fey and Steve Martin come on to present Best Original Screenplay. “I’m Steve Martin”, says Steve Martin, to mild applause. “And I’m Tina Fey”, says the current hot thing Tina Fey, and riotous applause breaks out. Determined not to be outdone, Steve Martin reminds us again that he’s Steve Martin. “To write is to live forever,” they say, and the award goes to Milk, the screenwriter of which looks rather sexy, but not as hot as Dan Futterman, who, for 2005’s Capote, has got to be the sexiest Oscar-nominated screenwriter.

They stay on stage to give the award to Adapted Screenplay, which goes to Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire. Luke almost gave me a bunging heart attack, when Beaufoy’s name was announced, whilst I was in the middle of punching the air, he asked, “Oh, so Benjamin Button won then? Cool.” He say lulz in it, I needless to say, did not. Anyway, what I loved about this win was that we got a shot of Dev Patel going into Anwar mode from his seat, punching the air like a rowdy football fan, whilst Frieda Pinto tries to mimic him, and looking a bit awkward in the process.

Next up, it’s Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black, who present a montage of animated movies from 2008. Jack Black makes a rather tongue-in-cheek comment about how, despite him appearing in lotsa Dreamworks movies, it’s Pixar that’s worth putting the money on. “Creative seeds are sown in the oddest places” notes the winner, Wall-E director Andrew Stanton, who had been casted in Hello, Dolly! From a young age, hence stemming the appearance of the film in his animated film. Pure beauty, that.

The acoustics are woeful as Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker bung on. Art Direction goes to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, standard. They proceed to Costume, which goes to The Duchess. So far there have been some rather decent presenters this year, and I do believe that is down to there being a cutdown in the number of presenters due to multiple presentations.

Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried, the hotties of their movies in 2008, Twilight and Mamma Mia! respectively, come on to present a montage of romance in 2008. Between them, they relive the age-old plot involving complications of love, and I have a good whinge about the sorry state of my non-existent love life. The montage is quite lovely actually, it encompasses all the expected choices of Wall-E, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Australia, Sex and the City, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Milk, as well as some questionable choices: Revolutionary Road (romance? All they did was whine at each other), High School Musical 3 (puh-leaze) and the abomination that is 27 Dresses, but, mercifully, the montage ends on a shot of Wall-E and Eve, the couple of 2008 for me, their heads together, rendering it a worthy montage.

Cinematography next, and Natalie Portman comes on, wearing an OK pink number (I wasn’t particularly impressed but Luke practically bunged himself :P) and Ben Stiller sporting a greasy beard in a bizarre and not totally comprehensible Joaquin Phoenix guise. Natalie Portman looks awfully skinny. Slumdog Millionaire wins it, yay! The winner’s hair is a bit skanky. He thanks the Academy for Opening the door. Here is Stiller's Phoenix stint, btw, it's well random!




Jessica Biel comes on, which ends the run of the presenters all being A-listers. She self-importantly retells the mini-award show of Science and shite that she presented a few weeks ago and Luke and I tune out, choosing instead to bitch about the people in his flat.

After the break, we get Seth Rogen and James Franco sitting on a manky couch and watching some of the 2008 movies and lol’ing, thus marking the 2008 comedy montage. I am loving it, they laugh at all the parts from The Reader that I laughed at, as well as dubbing Robert Downey Jr in his Tropic Thunder guise as Barack Obama. They also laughed at Doubt. I do laughing at films that take themselves seriously. They also bastardise Take a Chance on Me when singing it, stoned, and mucking up the words, but it’s great fun. In a hilarious send up of the wrestling scenes from Thw Wrestler, Franco staples some dollar bills to Rogen’s face. Then, out of nowhere, the Saving Private Ryan cinematographer Janusz Kaminski pops up and joins them on the couch. Then we see the three of them on stage, as they present Best Live Action Short. At this point, the stream kept cutting in and out so I missed what was apparently Franco mis-prouncing the German directors name, and then laughing, but Stephanie Beacham bought it up later and had a right self-important go. Speaking of which, one of the two blokes on that Sky show comments how Philip Seymour Hoffman looks more and more like Alex Ferguson as his face reddens as the night goes on, and I feel rather disgusted that they would affiliate one of my favourite actors with my most despised football manager, even if they make a good point. But anyway, the moral of the story is that James Franco is beautiful, even more so in a black tux. I certainly would. Speaking of which, Dev Patel. Mmmm.

Hugh Jackman and Beyonce do a musical number. He’s got the swagger of a champion; think Richard Gere in Chicago meets Jim Broadbent in Moulin Rouge!. The two partake in a medley that encompasses songs ranging from You’re the One I Want, All that Jazz, Lady Marmalade, You Can’t Stop the Beat, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, Somewhere over the Rainbow and Mamma Mia!. In between, America’s sweethearts Zach Efron & Vanessa Hudgens and Dominic Cooper (Luke remarks how much he looks like a Ian Huntley with that minging beard) & Amanda Seyfried make an appearance, but they don’t really add to or detract from the spectacle; it’s Beyonce and Hugh’s show, and they do a marvellous job.

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Christopher Walken, Chris Kline, Alan Arkin, someone else and Cuba Gooding Jr come onstage. I feel bad for Gooding Jr, it can’t be easy, standing there with four men that actually have careers. He talks about Downey Jr’s performance, “let’s talk about taking risks, shall we?”, leading to a blank expression from Dev Patel in the audience, particularly when a Shaft joke is made. Anyway, introductions are made and the biggest lock of the night is awarded: Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain. It’s a terribly poignant moment when his family walk up and accept the award for him, though I did feel it rather extravagant and insincere for the cameramen to show all the clips of people in the audience staring up, teary-eyed as if they knew Heath, when deep down they were probably thinking “when is it my turn to be on stage?” But the last word of his sister’s speech is “Matilda”, reminding the world of the sad fact that here is one girl that is going to grow up without a father.

As the montage of the Oscar nominated documentaries runs, we here Philip Glass’ haunting score to The Hours in the background. Shame he plagiarized himself from his work on Metamorphosis for that film. Man on Wire wins, and Philippe Petit, the subject is beyond adorable, as he takes his golden statue and makes it bow to the audience. Daww.

Action montage next, then Will Smith comes onstage. He claims he likes his action films; I really wouldn’t have guesed. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wins Visual Effects, as both me and Luke had predicted (so far, we are 100% on predictions). The Dark Knight then wins Best Sound Editing, marking the beginning of Luke getting one wrong and me getting one over him. About time too, I had my butt kicked by him when we predicted the BAFTAs. Smith then dubs the Sound Mixers: “the superheros of post-production”. If he sez so. Slumdog Millionaire wins, meaning I got both my Sound predictions right, and am still 100% right so far! Luke and I have a poncy discussion about the difference between Sound Editing and Sound and why The Dark Knight was right to win Sound Editing. And lastly, Will Smith presents the fourth award – Editing. A biggie, and Slumdog Millionaire gets it. Wey!

Halfway through Claudia Winkleman talking during the adverts of the Oscars, we cut to the Oscars again, this time, the Spanish guitar playing Moon River mellifluently as Hugh Jackman retells something Hepburn had said about the music to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Then, my favourite part of the night arrives – the orchestra plays excerpts from all five of the nominated scores. It’s done in alphabetical order: Daisy’s Ballet Career from Benjamin Button, summink insubstantial from Defiance, the theme from Milk, and Define Dancing from Wall-E. At this point I get confused; if it’s alphabetical, I ask Luke, why is Slumdog coming last? The orchestra answers my question: Bollywood instruments are gotten out and start playing; it makes sense to have that last. The audience plays Latika’s Theme and it just sounds beautiful, memories of the 2006 Oscars and Itzhak Perlman sitting up there, playing a medley of Oscar nominated scores, ending on Brokeback Mountain’s The Wings fill my mind and I feel all nostalgic, not to mention a bit fearsome about what would happen if Slumdog crashed like Brokeback did.

Not to worry, for now, Score is Slumdog’s, and Bollywood’s Man-of-the-Moment AR Rahman comes on stage to deliver a massively gracious and thankful speech. This was just after Zach Efron and some bitch come on. This girl makes an awful, awful impression to me: she refers to Desplat as Alejandro Desplat, which half makes me want to slap her and half makes me want to laugh. They stay on stage to announce the nominees for Best Original Song, though not before the girl mucks that bit up too; she calls it Best Original Score again. Um, we just had that category, dear. Keep up!

Anyway, the three best Song nominees get the poorest airing I’ve ever seen. Sub-par is an understatement; this downright sucks. The drumming for O Saya sounds really good and AR Rahman has more than enough stage presence to deliver a rousing intro, but M.I.A. not being there means we don’t get the middle chunk of the song, which contains the lyrics that are so relevant to Slumdog Millionaire’s story. We then go into a performance of Down to Earth, not with Peter Gabriel, who revolted (the performances of the songs got cut down to a minute each and he wasn’t having any of it), but John Legend, who is fine, but the Bollywood dancers who were previously in pink sahris and dancing around to O Saya suddenly try to sway to Down to Earth and it is almost as much of a fail as the 43% I got for my recent exam. Finally, Jai Ho, which sounds OK, but a bit half-hearted and thus not doing any justice to the power of the song, before AR Rahman and John Legend have a sing-off, Jai Ho vs. Down to Earth, which sounds awful. I am very upset by this.

Luckily, AR Rahman’s second prize of the night for Jai Ho redeems this, and he seems completely moved and lost for words, just rooted to the spot and speaking mildly. He is made of pure win!

Reese Witherspoon comes on in a jewel encrusted dress to present Best Director. As predicted, it goes to Danny Boyle, who comes on and talks quickly and in a lively manner. “I reckon every person in the UK jumped up when he one” opines Claudia Winkleman later on the Sky Cinema show. Um, me and Luke didn’t. But yeah. Delighted he won.

For Best Actress, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Shirley MacLaine and Halle Berry come on to the music of Gone with the Wind. Luke is more alert than me and notes that three of these women are in the upcoming Nine, which is directed by the director of this Oscar ceremony. Clever plugging! Furthermore, Nicole Kidman, being Luke’s favourite actress, nearly induces my dear friend to joygasm, whilst I just sit there, filing my nails. Shirley McLaine describes Anne Hathway’s performance, and puts a lovely smile on the face of Princess Mia. Sophia Loren looks a bit Jackie Stalloneesque. As everyone envisioned, Kate Winslet wins. She tells a cute story about how, when she was eight, she used to fantasize about winning the Oscar. “It’s not a shampoo bottle now!” she gushes, before telling Meryl Streep to suck on it. I wasn't paying attention to the rest of her speech (though she commendably managed to mention the fact that she's from Reading once), but I did like Angelina Jolie's green earrings a lot.

Immediately next is Best Actor. It’s a standing ovation for Michael Douglas, Robert de Niro, Adrian Brody, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley. All I can think about when I see the latter is his stunning performance as Don Logan in Sexy Beast and that hilarious “I’m sweatin’ like cunt!” line. Richard Jenkins’ performance is described as containing “simplicity”, which, interpreted in one way, could be calling him a thickie. But nah. Anyway, this is the only category I got wrong out of all my predictions, and, as both Luke and I expected Rourke to win, we were paying particular attention to him, and we say both Tina Fey and Dev Patel sitting behind him. But nah, Sean Penn wins, gives a great speech and everything, but all we were discussing was how absolutely gutted Rourke must have felt. The audience absolutely adore Penn, giving him a standing ovation, and he concedes "I make it hard to like me sometimes."

Steven Spielberg presents Best Film, and as he talks through each of the nominated films, Milk gets a massive cheer when mentioned, leading me to get fears about Slumdog getting screwed over last minute like BBM was. But no fear, it wins. Dev Patel gets his face on the screen. I smile contentedly, thinking how it was totally worth staying up tonight; to redeem myself against Luke for the thrashing I took last time we played predictions on the BAFTAs, to bitch about stars, to lol at various points of the ceremony, to view the spectacle, but most of all, see the lovely Slumdog Millionaire get the award it so deserves. As Kate Winslet told Meryl Streep, suck it, haters! Jai Ho, indeed.


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

HEEE.

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Finalized Oscar Predictions.

Bung! As with the previous two years, I gave up halfway through the “A Look Ahead” categories. But at least I analysed all four acting categories this year, which is always fun!

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Screenplay: Milk
Best Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Song: Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Costume: The Duchess
Best Make-Up: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Sound Mixing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
Best Foreign Film: Departures
Best Animated Feature: Wall-E
Best Documentary: Man on Wire

Not the most diverse year, but here’s to hoping to a Slumdog sweep!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Last night's episode of Skins ticked me off royally.

Cook is one of the most despicable characters in the history of TV. If I wasn't furious enough that Panda lost her virginity to him, he was even more contemptuous in this week's episode. The episode itself was OK - Freddie's always been nothing more than a piece of ass to me, but his story was fairly interesting and I was semi-convinced by his strong emotions for Effy. But Effy was whoretastic, and the parting shot infuriated me no end.

I hope both Cook and Effy get what's coming to them. This season really is turning to be a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully the JJ and Naomi episodes will be good.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dev Patel's Music Taste.

Here's a playlist he compiled:
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1. I Just Wanna Love You/Jay-Z. Haha, a very Anwarish choice.
2. When the Sun Goes Down/Arctic Monkeys. I remember hearing this and singing along to it in XL last Monday. We all need a good song about prostitution!
3. Paper Planes/M.I.A. Of course I'd be furious if this wasn't on there, a brilliant song in its own right, and is the song that I'm my life by. And of course, I love it more having heard it played twice in SM.
4. Kick in the Door/Notorious B.I.G. My my, Dev Patel fancies his gansta rap, don' 'e?? I like this tune, but it's not my favourite from the Notorious B.I.G.
5. Champion/Kanye West. Ditto, this is far from being my favourite Kanye West song (Homecoming! Hey Mama! Welcome to the Heartbreak!), but it's still an insanely catchy song in its own right. "Yes I did."
6. Organ Donor/DJ shadow. Dev goes for a short instrumental here, and it's very snazzy indeed, an artistic, meandering experimental ditty
7. Hero/Enrique Iglesias. Um... yeah. I like Underneath your Clothes by Shakira so I can't really judge too much, but, hmm. Odd choice. Good to know he's a softie at heart though.
8. American Boy/Estelle ft. Kanye West. It makes me very happy to think that Dev likes his Kanye!
9. Praise You/Fatboy Slim. Dev Patel claims this is the "best song to dance to", but I personally find it hard to dance to dance tracks like this, paradoxically.
10. Follow Me/Uncle Kracker. Aww. An adorable song, I didn't see Dev Patel picking this one, but 'tis a good choice.
11. On Shooter/Robin Thicke ft. Lil' Wayne. It's got good beats.
12. World Town/M.I.A. - the second M.I.A. song in this list has an amazing riff.
13. I'll Be Missing You/P Diddy & Faith Evans. A beautiful, heartbreaking song for the stalker in me


So yay, Dev has got good taste overall! Here's a crappy playlist for this week that I put together. They're the songs that sum me up at the moment.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Look Ahead to Best Actor.

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The nominees are:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Brad Pitt
Frost/Nixon - Frank Langella
Milk - Sean Penn
Visitor - Richard Jenkins
The Wrestler - Mickey Rourke

How I did: 80%. I wrongly predicted DiCaprio in, Jenkins out.

My rankings:
01. Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Having recently given re-watched Requiem for a Dream, I thought it apt to draw a few comparisons between Ellen Burstyn's performance as the pill-popping, TV-addicted lonely old woman and Mickey Rourke's long-haired, aging wrestler. For no reason aside from the fact that both films were directed by Darren Aronofsky and both are believed, by the masses, to be the strongest performances of their category (I do not think this for Burstyn, btw).

Character development:
Burstyn: she's sad. She's very sad because her good-for-nothing son comes round only to nick her TV, sell it to the pawnbrokers for drug money and force her to buy it back, she's sad because her husband is dead and she has no real friends. So she becomes addicted to gameshows and deluded believes she's going to go on one, and in order to fit into a red dress she wants to wear for the show, she starts taking diet pills that her doctor prescribes. And then starts having hallucinations that her fridge wants to devour her.

Rourke: He used to be a star, but now he's just a jaded man with aging limbs. He still retains some loyal devotees and makes appearances in small-key wrestling joints, but a near-fatal heart attack makes him look beyond the wrestling, getting romantically involved with Marisa Tomei's stripper and reconciling with his estranged daughter. However, being a human and being flawed, he makes some mistakes that cause him to lose everything he's worked so hard to build up these people, and starts wondering if wrestling is the only thing that will be there for him.

Where it all goes wrong:
Burstyn: Whereas the doctor told Sara Goldfarb to take one pill in the morning, one at lunch, one in the evening and one at night, such is her dependency and ensuing immunity to the strength of just one, that slowly, she begins taking two at once. Such is her obsession with gameshows that she repeatedly dreams/hallucinates about how she's on the show, as well as how her fridge has a mouth. It's funny.

Rourke: Though deep down he has a heart of gold, Ram is a gruff individual, and not the best time-keeper in the world, thus missing a crucial date with his daughter and shooting his mouth off when Cassidy rejects his advances.

Acting performance:
Burstyn: Perhaps it was the unfortunate way the film was over-edited, or the pounding Clint Mansell score, or the fact that I'd had a glass of red wine with my Sunday roast before I watched this film, but I found Burstyn's supposed vulnerability nothing short of hilarious, especially when she was sitting there in that sofa, shaking at the sight of her fridge. She looked appropriately ugly, but if you were dishing out Oscars for looking bad, I'd have a mantelpiece full of them. Unlike most of the cinema going world, I have absolutely no qualms about Julia Roberts winning the Oscar over Burstyn; Julia Roberts gave a masterclass in being a heroine with a heart, Burstyn gave a masterclass in why chavs of youth like laughing at their elders.

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Rourke: A genuinely sad performance, Rourke deserves every ounce of praise he's been garnishing. His apologetic monologue to Evan Rachel Wood was perfectly heartfelt and I was bewitched by his character and everything he did in the film.

Hmm. These paragraphs has played out more as me taking a pop at Requiem for a Crazy Fridge than an appraisal of Rourke's performance. This is not on; he was absolutely incredible and utterly natural, my choice for the win.

02. Sean Penn, Milk
Without Sean Penn's charismatic lead, Milk would have been just your regular biopic for me, albeit one with an inspirational story and strong supporting cast. It is Penn that carries the film, noting "I'm 40 and I haven't done anything", and sets about rectifying this when he tries to be elected for public office. He's knocked back, over and over again, but always believes that next time, will be the time, and this belief inspired all those around him. Of course, Harvey Milk wasn't perfect - a touch egotistical and he got so caught up in his campaign that he inadvertently shuns Scotty (a pitch-perfect James Franco.) But Sean Penn delivers us one of the most dependable, likable heroes of 2008, and for that, I salute him.

03. Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Has been a while since I saw this performance, but I remember being very impressed by Jenkins in it.

04. Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
The interviews between Langella and Sheen are the focus of Frost/Nixon, and in Langella's Richard Nixon we have the disgraced president wanting to redeem himself. I know little about the real Richard Nixon but I imagine he would have been just as politicking as Langella depicts him to be. The dimly lit cinematography, fumes of cigarette smoke and intelligent screenplay add to a great performance, even if it was the Englishman of the duo that I preferred.

05. Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
He spends a good chunk of the film playing someone a lot older/younger than him, but it's when Brad acts his age that he does the best acting. He makes a convincing lover, a compassionate man and a good voyage mate, but, try as he might, he can't summon any chemistry with the bland Cate Blanchett, and that detracted from the romance and thus, power of CCOBB. Looked hot though.

Who will win: Mickey Rourke
Who should win: Mickey Rourke
Who deserved to win: Pat Shortt, Garage. My favourite performance of the year, Shortt plays nice-but-dim garage worker Josie, a man who can't ever find his place in life, much like the horse he frequently visits. It's a gentle, infectious performance that slowly crept up on me and wasn't until the credits rolled that I realised how amazing he was.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Best Uses of Music in Skins.

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In last week's episode, when Pandora lost her virginity, Kanye West's Love Lockdown played sadly in the background. This was a transcendent moment, one of those moments when the usage of music is so amazing that I get shivers from what I'm watching - much like with About Her in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 and Paper Planes in Slumdog Millionaire. I think it was the combination of the fact that I'm used to hearing Kanye either through a) my phone ringtone (Homecoming - every time I receive a phonecall I usually delay answering the phone because I wanna listen to the song for a bit, how sad and b) on the dancefloor, as well as the African drumming of the song which evoked memories of Pandora's romance from the previous episode, thus quietly reminding us who she should have been losing her flower to.
Anyway, it got me thinking as to what my top 5 usages of music in Skins have been -

01. Hometown Glory - Adele // when Cassie runs and runs and runs

02. Love Lockdown - Kanye West // when Panda loses her virginity

03. Limit To Your Love - Feist // Tony/Maxxie episode of season 2

04. Old Fashioned Morphine - Josie Holland // when Cassie, in heartbreak, ODs

05. When she kisses me - Jonathan Richman // when Jal and Chris kiss

Runner up: Tricky - Hell Is Around the Corner // when Michelle dances with Sid in the "Sid" episode

What does everyone make of the new season of Skins, by the way? I don't think it's a scratch on the previous two, and Effy's proving to be nothing but a selfish little whore. Also, Jack O' Connell, who was so terrifying and strong in Eden Lake (yes, strong, Martin!), plays Cook, perhaps one of the biggest knobbers in the history of television (I got a great amount of grim satisfaction in seeing him beaten up in episode 2). I am really liking Panda though, she's like an airy, more innocent and less anorexic version of Cassie. Naomi's also a good character, she gets some of the best lines. I also like JJ, and Freddie is just beyond pretty.

It's only been a few days since she gave birth, but this Goddess wants to perform at the Oscars.

I fly like paper, get high like planes.
And I bunging well hope she does!

In other news, petty theft is the way forward for student scum like me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Look Ahead to Best Actress.

The nominees are:
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How I did: 70%. I correctly predicted Streep, Hathaway, Leo and Winslet, albeit the latter for Revolutionary Road. I also predicted Sally Hawkins ahead of Angelina Jolie, which I realise now was nothing but wishful thinking.

My rankings:
01. Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Telling the story of a mother who's gambling sadsack of a husband does a runner with their savings, meaning she is unable to fund a double wide, the “house” they have been so looking forward to living in, Melissa Leo plays a woman who is driven to desperate measures, measures of human trafficking, to procure the money she has lost. She’s a good mother, but not a great person, and Leo captures this trait, a trait so common in many humans, of caring for our kin so much that we’re willing to put our morals and sensibilities aside to give what we believe to be best for them. Her character is a fighter, one that never gives up and will fight it out to the end. Melissa Leo in Frozen River gives a stark, honest, natural and utterly brave performance, so brave that my eyes were rooted to the screen even when her misadventures in human trafficking made the movie hard to watch. With ten more projects to come from Leo, I’m deeply excited to see what more she has to offer, because, as this film has shown, she is a leading lady with more than enough ability to carry a film.


02. Anne Hathaway, Rachel getting Married
As Kym, the to-the-point bad-girl to Rosemarie DeWitt's prodigal sister Rachel, Anne Hathaway is entertaining, funny, moving and sarcastic in her performance, a performance that is rendered ever the more painful with the intrusive Dogma style that the film is shot in. Hathaway has the time of her life playing one of the few well-written female characters of the year, from that painful toast to DeWitt in which she manages to twist the jovial upcoming marriage to something macabre, to her breakdown and subsequent bombshell about the family tragedy that occured one day when she was under the influence, she's always a compelling watch. I never totally came round to Kym, as I'm sure Rachel didn't, but Hathaway brings such depth and raw emotion to her performance that I felt a gratifying sense of closure with the final scenes.

03. Meryl Streep, Doubt
As with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the same movie, this is a role that Meryl Streep could have handled in her sleep; shouting a bit, watching people with silent, judgemental eyes and then breaking down when realising that she may not have been right. But, like her performance as the quintessential cold-and-impossible-to-read-type Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep is makes a magnetic bitch, a performance that, whilst hard to like and sympathise for and care about, I couldn't take my eyes away from. Her ongoing grudge against Hoffman sets up some of the biggest crescendoes in the film: the boiled up suspicions all come out in their various verbal showdowns, and in them, Streep is fascinating to watch. Doubt is imbued with ambiguities from start to finish, and Streep aptly captures many of these in her role.

04. Kate Winslet, The Reader
Uh, yeah, Kate was amazing! Yeah, ignore me ranking her last fourth, because I really mean to rank her first, she blew me away hopefully not in the same way she blew the wooden lad that she bonked in the film! She was just so, um, good, she didn't in any way sit around and sigh for 75% of the film. I completely agree with her impending Oscar win!

Bitchiness aside, it was actually a strong performance from Kate Winslet (an actress I both admire and respect, by the way. I just happen to find the "I'm a normal mum from Reading who was playing on the Wii with my son when the Oscar nominations were announced" schtick a bit passe) as war criminal Hannah Schmitz, a complex and baffling who is more ashamed by one secret than her war past. On learning the twist of the film, the performance becomes easier to appreciate, and some of the scenes wherein Kross reads to her carry more weigh, significance and beauty.

05. Angelina Jolie, Changeling
I had an interesting thought regarding Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor this year: for the most part, the characters they portrayed are morally dubious/downright bad. Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger was a psychopath, Phil Hoffman was a potential kiddy-fiddler, Michael Shannon was an annoying nutcase and Josh Brolin was a homophobic knob. Only Robert Downey Jr could be considered a hero in any way. The same wave of thought applies to Best Actress - Melissa Leo plays a good mother, but one that partakes in human trafficking nonetheless, Anne Hathaway a recovering druggie who did something awful when under the influence many years ago, Meryl Streep is a cold nun with a personal grudge and Kate Winslet, well, she gased people. As with Downey Jr, Jolie plays the only goodie of the bunch, a mother that realises her son isn't her son. And Jolie does it all very well, albeit without ever entering the realms of excellence.

Who will win: Kate Winslet
Who should win: Melissa LeoWho deserved to get nominated: Kelly Reilly (Eden Lake) & Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky)

A Look Ahead to Best Score.

I'd better get a move on if I intend on getting the major categories predicted by Sunday. And for me, Score counts in major category!

The nominees are:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Alexandre Desplat
Defiance - James Newton Howard
Milk - Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire - A.R. Rahman
WALL•E - Thomas Newman

How I did: 65%.

I got Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire and WALL.E right, and have given myself a cheeky 5% for predicting that James Newton Howard would get nominated for one of his scores, albeit it being for Defiance, not The Dark Knight.

Rankings, bearing in mind I haven't seen Defiance -
01. Slumdog Millionaire (A.R. Rahman)
My favourite film score of the year, bar none. Rahman’s palette contains a mix of electronica, Indian instruments, reknowned Bollywood singers, Brazilian drumming, bittersweet song lyrics and the driving force of his music; the love story and life story of Jamal.There’s a bit of everything on the score – catchy tunes (Ringa Ringa), melancholy romance (Dream’s on Fire, Latika’s Theme) and adrenaline-rising chase sequences (Mausam & Escape), meaning that I was bopping along throughout the film. The elegiac pieces so sad I was moved to tears and the thrilling tracks so thrilling that I was bopping my head along, the music captures the spirit and tone of the film at each point perfectly, and features the best of both the eastern and western musical worlds. Rahman, despite his massive fame in his home country, is still somewhat of an unknown name in the UK and USA, here’s to hoping his two Oscars this year for Song and Score get him some of the recognition he massively deserves.
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02. WALL•E (Thomas Newman)
So good it evoked memories of my beloved Shawshank Redemption, Thomas Newman’s score for Andrew Stanton’s futuristic romance has everything you need to evoke feelings of love: tingling percussion, short bursts of rhythm, and a quirky style of dreaminess. “Define Dancing” is my personal favourite of all the tracks, an ethereal, spine-tingling piece that truly made me feel like I was dancing over the universe. For Newman meets Disney, it’s actually something of a disappointment as he has actually done a lot, lot better in the past (especially when compared to Giacchino’s score for Pixar’s previous outing, Ratatouille, which has a higher playability value as well as his work on Finding Nemo, which is my favourite film score of all time) but it’s still better than 90% of the film scores out there.

03. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Alexandre Desplat)
Heart-welling and stunning Desplat, but more than a little bit of plagiarism of his previous score to Lust, Caution, methinks.

04. Milk (Danny Elfman)
During watching the film, the score to Milk worked a treat: moving, fitting with the images and unobtrusive. But it doesn’t rate highly on the unforgettability factor.

Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who deserves to win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who deserved to get nominated: The Dark Knight

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Screening Log (09/02/09 - 15/02/02)

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Kirby Dick, 2005)
Enjoyable and eye-opening documentary about how certain films in the USA get branded the dreaded NC-17 rating, usually due to salacious scenes they contain. The film contains interviews with directors who’ve had their movies rated NC-17 (some containing very witty musings on the double standard of it all - who, opines Boys Don‘t Cry director Kimberley Pierce, “has ever been hurt by an orgasm?”), as well as news footage and clips from the films themselves, meaning that it’s an entertaining treat for anyone who, like me, loves their movie ratings.

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes, 2008)
Revolutionary Road follows the lives of April and Frank Wheeler, a couple who are bored of their mundane lives and plan on living the dream and starting afresh in France. Depressing from start to finish, Revolutionary Road isn’t one to watch if you’re already down, but I do concede it was well made in parts - DiCaprio is extremely moving and Thomas Newman’s score keeps it on the right side of dramatic. However, it was a trek to get through all of it in the end - the characters were despicable and whiny, the plot took its sweet time and moments of high drama got so overwrought that it was all I could do from laughing. American Beauty II this ain’t.
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Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008)
Slow-burninfilm about independence, family history, solidarity, love, redemption, and being yourself with a standout turn from Anna Hathaway as Kym, a bolshy and loud-mouthed recovering drug addict, who has been released from rehab to attend to wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). In fact, the strained relationship and bubbling tension between the two sisters forms the basis - and most affecting moments of the film, with both Hathaway and DeWitt giving great performances; the latter more natural than the former, but Hathaway exhibiting some moments of genuine heartache and repentance. The film contained too many scenes focusing on the minutiae (a dishwasher loading scene had me scratching my head), but overall, it was fairly moving and an ultimately rewarding watch.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008)
Benjamin Button is born in the body of an old man, and curiously, ages backwards, so that whilst other people are growing toward their impending death, he goes nearer and nearer to his childhood, then being born. The film charts Ben Button’s life story, from growing up in the old people’s home his adoptive mother works in and meeting childhood friend and lifelong love Daisy there to his exploits a a seaman, not to mention a short-live affair with Tilda Swinton. At under three hours running time, Ben Button takes its time, but I had a good time watching it - it was entertaining cinema with a stunning Alexandre Desplat score, beautiful Brad Pitt, a loveable Taraji P Henson and some nice little moments, albeit with Cate Blanchett at her most bland (the way the lines in her face had been CGI out just looked unnatural) and a fatal amount of overdrive on the CGI. Thus, verily I say, it was well-made and in short bursts emotionally involving, but Cate Blanchett’s inability to make us care about Daisy (and thus, her subsequent romance with Pitt; feck me, she had more chemistry with Brad Pitt when lying dying in Babel) and the old woman that played older Daisy was so annoying that they almost ruined the film for me.

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (Peter Avanzino, 2009)
A hilarious treat, this fourth Futurama movie tells the story of Amy Wong’s father Leo wanting to decimate a good portion of the galaxy so he can build a massive golf course and Leela and her group of feminists friends attempt to stop him. Truly witty in many ways, my personal highlight of the film was the poker showdown between a lucky Bender and a psychic Fry.

Hellboy (Guillermo del Toro, 2004)
Simple (much like one of the boys I was watching the film with) superhero ditty with some amusing moments but ultimately a very forgetting watch.

Step Up II: The Streets (Jon Chu, 2008)
My favourite film of the week. No need for me to retell the plot, because it doesn’t really have one and what does exist of the plot is utter cack, as is the acting, dialogue, direction and pretty much everything that didn’t involve the dance scenes, soundtrack and choreography. But those three elements about the film are so strong that they redeem the general crappiness of Step Up II and give it a deserved spot on my top 10 of 2008. My words couldn’t do the dancing justice, but the final dance in the rain is one of the best things I’ve seen in cinema, ever.

Sex and Breakfast (some twat, 2007)
An 80-minute long mess of Macauley Culkin and his cinematic spouse and Elisha Dushku and her on-screen boyfriend whining about their sex lives, going to see councillors, trying out swinging and then finally deciding that they are satisfied. Whiny, repetitive, boring dross, I couldn’t recommend anything about this.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Worst Films of 2008.

Now, Emmabung watches quite a high quantity of trash - some of it out of curiosity, some of it out of hope (after all, if I don't watch it, how will I know if it was a masterpiece or not?), some of it for the lulz. The following films are the cream of the crop of crap.

10. Space Chimps
Animated films got a good runout in 2008, save this piece of turd. The animation looks like something I could have wangled together for a GCSE DT project, the plot is boring, script contrived, and monkeys downright irritating. Plus, it's a U-rated film, and the filmmakers managed to slip a little message about BJs, the paedos. Even my 10-year-old brother Tom, who is entertained by pretty much anything, was unimpressed by this crappy ditty.

09. Lady Godiva
"Like Lady Godiva, I'm gonna go, go, go, there's no stopping me!" blasts the lyrics of Queen's Don't Stop Me Now, one of the most played songs in the nightclubs at Bath. Well, I bloody well wish someone had stopped Vicky Jewson from making this piece of shite, about a red-haired and flat-chested simpleton who rides through town naked on a horse to avoid paying taxes. Poor Miss Jewson is only 21 and this is her first effort at filmmaking so we'll let it pass, but if I see another film as poor as this again, I'll be having words with whichever misguided fool allowed the funding for her projects.

08. Gomorra
Boring, choppy, turgid and unintentionally hilarious from start to finish, I got absolutely nothing from Gomorra - weeks on, I was still left thinking that they were the SPANISH mafia, ffs. Somewhat of a media darling when released in London, but you just know that if this wasn't a foreign arthouse release, it would have been slated. Waste of time and space.

07. Angus, Thongs, And Perfect Snogging
Let the record be known that I do not begrudge teenage girls for leading happier lives than me. And I love my teen movies, I do - from 2008 alone, the Sisterhood of the Travelling pants II was lovely, Wild Child was crap but highly enjoyable, and Step Up II: the Streets was one of the best films of the year. But feck me, it was a struggle to sit through this. Georgina's a self-involved little so-and-so who devotes her life to chasing this camp and squeaky-voiced band member who has recently joined her school. Such is the importance on snogging someone she barely knows, she shuns her daughterly duties, uses her mates on a whim and whines so much you'd think she was trying to audition for the part of Clare off Heroes. The soundtrack to this film is such a masterpiece (second best soundtrack of the year, honest), that it hurts my soul that it's accompanying such a bad picture.

06. The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Quite what did you do to piss off your agents to get into this mess, David and Gillian? X-Files used to be such a beguiling, impressive show. TV-to-big-screen transitions rarely work out fluidly, and they usually turn out to be hugely disappointing to the loyal devotees of the original series. But that doesn't mean the film can't still be watchable (case in point - SATC: The Movie; very much less good than the TV show, but still entertaining), as long as the cast and crew you know, bother. Well, no-one bothered with this, and as a result, a more apt title should have been: The X-Files: I Want to Leave the Cinema.

05. Cassandra's Dream
So shockingly bad that it came to the UK a whole year later than it should have, this was a truly painful watch. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell do London accents about as well as I do Second Order Differential Equations, Allen preens over London to a point where it grates (it's really not that pretty, dear), the dialogue between the brothers wouldn't be out of place on Chucklevision, and the story has more plot holes than you can shake a stick at. Vicky Cristina Barcelona went a small way toward atoning for this piece of cinematic gash (particularly Cruz's radiant performance), but Manhattan seems a distant, distant memory now.

04. Funny Games
I was well excited when I saw Funny Games, it being one of the first 18-rated films I was legally watching in the cinema. And what a disappointment. Not that I ever was the greatest fan of Haneke's '97 original, but, maybe, knowing what to expect just made the experience an even more painful one. I really am struggling to name any redemptive qualities about it; when the audience larfs at moments of supposed "tension", you know you're in a wee bit o' trouble.

03. Blindness
My biggest disappointment of the year. I'd been eagerly anticipating Blindness long before I read the novel, based on the curious trailer and the cast and crew involved: Moore, Ruffalo, Bernal, Mierelles. On reading the powerful and gut-wrenching novel, trepidation hit me: how, I wondered, were they going to adapt such a strong novel into celluloid? Very poorly was the answer - Julie didn't cut it in a fatsuit, there were cheap shocks aplenty ala audience manipulation, the screenplay was beyond woeful and I shall never look at Gael Garcia Bungnal the same way ever again. Plus, the pretension. Oh the pretension. Let's not be coy about this, I'm not exactly an unponcy girl, but dear Lord, Blindness was more pretentious than listening to Wagner on your Apple computer whilst sitting in a VW and reading Anna Karenina. Blindness? I wish I'd been during the screening of this.

02. Donkey Punch
Before seeing this film, I didn't even know what a Donkey Punch was. Now, thanks to Ollie Blackburn, I've seen one occur. And I will never forget the filthy memory of a bloke bunging a woman, before punching her neck so he can have a better sexy-time, and, in doing so, accidentally killing her. I had a listen to The Guardian's Jason Solomon interviewing the director, to which he self-preened to the heavens about how proud of himself for making this edgy, brave piece of cinema. He declared that the women in the film were "intelligent, independent women". Yup, they sure looked intelligent and indepedent when they were taking MDMA, partaking in orgies, waving a knife about and screaming like twats. Shitly acted, shitly written, shitly directed and pretty much shitty from start to finish, the only real joy I got from watching this film was larfing when one of the leads died comedically.

01. Burn After Reading
My most despised film of the year. It baffles me how the Coen brothers, who's esoteric brand of comedy I usually adore (The Hudsucker Proxy was what got me to have a 5-year-long crush on Tim Robbins and Intolerable Cruelty made me giggle at all the right bits) could put together such a piece of unadulterated bollocks, a film that feels me with so much rage, I could give the hulk a run for his money. There's just nothing right about it; Tilda Swinton is and always will be a bitch, George Clooney invents a shitty (and painful looking) sex toy which Frances McDormand, being the dumb fool she is, declares to be "brilliant", and Brad Pitt lounges about like a retard. Such is the awfulness of the cast, that it gave me poor memories during other films - at the cinema this Wednesday when watching The Curious Case of Ben Button, in the scenes between Swinton and Pitt, it was all I could do from glowering when remembering how I'd wasted £1.40-something on the Coen's piece of turd. The plot has no direction; the Coens just let their imaginations run away with them and it's taken them to dark, dark places. It's the smuggest thing I've ever seen, and I feel the Coens should have their No Country for Old Men oscars detracted just to teach them a lesson.

Acid Tongue (Jenny Lewis)

The Rilo Kiley lead singer goes solo, with lovely results. How I rank the songs on the album:

01. Badman's World (sultry and stunning)
02. Sing a Song for Them (the intro/guitar riff is breathtaking and the piano chord + voice thing works a treat)
03. Acid Tongue (I could listen to Jenny Lewis' mellow voice with that guitar all day. Am loving the hillbilly vibes)
04. Trying My Best to Love You (romantic and sweet)
05. Carpetbagger (adorable)
06. The Next Messiah
07. Black Sand
08. Jack Killed Mom (a macabre ballad, but an interesting and intelligent one at that)
09. Pretty Bird
10. Godspeed
11. Fernando (I preferred the lyrics and music in Abba's song of the same title meself)

All in all, easily one of the finest albums of 2008.

Look Ahead to Best Supporting Actress.


An amazing line-up of one of my favourite categories this year, with two of the five making my own ballot, and two others being very close.

The nominees -
Amy Adams - Doubt
Penélope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis - Doubt
Taraji P Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler

Rankings:
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01. Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
As the fiery and rather unstable Maria Elena, Penélope Cruz gives one of her fiercest performances. Every time she's on screen, we can't not watch her, whether it be argue with Javier Bardem, undermine Scarlett Johansson, or wave her cigarette about. Cruz has always been at home with acting very well in her mother tongue, then turning out disappointing performances when required to speak English, but that is not the case here. The script fits her character like a glove, and exhibits the many facets of her character and personality. The most enjoyable performance of the year. Me waxing lyrical about Penelope's performance.

02. Amy Adams, Doubt
In small bursts, Adams' character of Sister James, a naive young nun who finds herself in over her head, could be construed as irritating. That trembling lower lip, those reproachful large eyes, all signs of the stereotypical innocent schoolkid-type performance. But Adams shows that there is more to Sister James than that; caught in the middle of a power struggle between Streep and Hoffman, she's a kind of unwilling go-between, wanting to see the good in Hoffman but finding her mind being invariably poisoned by Streep. Towards the end, I truly felt for her in her plight.

03. Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not, as many hormonal teenage girls may have been hoping, a three hour long romcom where Brad takes his top off at a whim. That said, there is comedy - Fincher's comic retelling of each of the seven ways one of the characters has been struck by lightning, as well as Henson's soulful, heart-warming performance. She plays Pitt's adoptive mother, a woman who, at the start of the film, cannot conceive children of her own, so gives her maternal love to Pitt's manchild. Henson is giving some of the funniest lines in the film, and she's an adorable watch.

04. Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Tomei plays Cassidy, the stripper who catches Mickey Rourke's jaded wrestler's eye, and whose time may soon be up in the lapdancing stint, paralleling Rourke and his misadventures in boxing. Refusing to conform to "tart with a heart" type stereotypes, Marisa Tomei captures every edge of her character: hot and cold, high and low, in and out, up and down. Apologies, it's playing on my iTunes. She's great throughout, but her delivery of "I'm here now" - and the subsequent walking away of Rourke - bought tears of sadness to my eyes.

05. Viola Davis, Doubt
On initial viewing, I was amazed by Davis - and her character's ambiguity regarding her son's potential abuse. But, on reflection, I reckon that, whilst it was an aptly powerful performance, I could definitely see that she was acting.

Who will win: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Who deserves to win: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Who deserved to be nominated: 1) Hannah Schygulla, The Edge of Heaven; 2) Misty Upham, Frozen River; and, most controversially, 3) Mila Kunis, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Right, Luke's going to give me beef about the latter tomorrow over the roast dinner so I shall attempt to justify it. Yes, she did just look pretty 90% of the time she was on screen, as with Freida Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire, Rebecca Hall in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Amy Adams in Miss Pettigrew. But in Kunis' eyes I also saw a whole history of sadness and being knocked about a bit, a history that, when she retells to Jason Segel's protagonist, she does without any trace of self-pity and resentment; here is a woman that is shaped by his mistakes and has learnt to appreciate the good in the world; something that the main character soon does. Particularly when contrasted against Kristen Bell's self-involved Sarah Marshall, Kunis' humble charms and neat comic timing make you want Segel to make the right choice and, well, forget Sarah Marshall immediately. I thought she was lovely.
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Rory's a munter, but Kieran's as bungable as ever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Holding Hands and Making Plans.

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More of their godliness: one and two and three

Soundtrack of 2008.

My favourite tracks from movies from 2008. I am yet to watch some of these films, but I own their soundtracks. Thus, if you want a listen of any of these, just ask!

Bella's Lullaby (Carter Burwell, Twilight score)
Benjamin & Daisy (Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button score)
Ching-a-Ling (Missy Elliot, Step 2 OST)
Church (T-Pain, Step Up 2 OST)
Define Dancing (Thomas Newman, WALL·E score)
Desperate Eve (Thomas Newman, WALL·E score)
Dreams on Fire (A. R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire OST)
First Beach (Michael Nyman, Man on Wire score)
Fucking Boyfriend (The Bird and the Bee, Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
Harvey Two-Face (Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard, The Dark Knight score)
I am the Batman (Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard, The Dark Knight score)
I Want it All (the siblings, High School Musical 3 OST)
If I Didn't Care (Amy Adams, Lee Pace, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day OST)
Jai Ho (A.R. Rahman, Gulza; Slumdog Millionaire OST)
Mausum & Escape (A. R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire OST)
Never Think (Robert Pattinson, Twilight OST)
Nick & Norah's Theme (Mark Mothersbaugh, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist)
Now or Never (Zac Efron et al, High School Musical 3 OST)
O Saya (A. R. Rahman, M.I.A., Slumdog Millionaire OST)
Paper Planes (M.I.A., Slumdog Millionaire OST)
Paper Planes DFA Remix (M.I.A., Slumdog Millionaire OST)
Rap das Armas (MC Juniour, Elite Squad)
Right Here, Right Now (Zach Efron et al, High School Musical 3 OST)
Shut Up and Drive (Rihanna, Wild Child OST)
Super Trouper (Meryl Streep et al, Mamma Mia! OST)
The Call (Regina Spektor, Prince Caspian OST)
The Show (Lenka, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging OST)
Who Needs Love (Razorlight, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging OST)
Yong Folks (Peter Bjorn, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging OST)
Your Song (Kate Walsh, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging OST)

How about you, darlings?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You've got a smile that could light up a whole town.

The Indian actress Kajol has one of the loveliest smiles I've ever seen. Beautiful!

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A Look Ahead to Best Supporting Actor.

The nominees are: -
The Dark Knight - Heath Ledger
Doubt - Philip Seymour Hoffman
Milk - Josh Brolin
Revolutionary Road - Michael Shannon
Tropic Thunder - Robert Downey Jr.


Crude character summaries -
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How I did: 80%. I predicted Dev Patel ahead of Michael Shannon.

My ranks:
01. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
In the 2006 Oscars, Ledger was up against Hoffman, and he lost. Despite me loving Brokeback Mountain to pieces, I agreed with the loss; Hoffman as Truman Capote gave a better performance. The battle between the two men has reared its head again, and this time, it is Ledger that comes out trumps. And before you ask, yes, I will continue bringing up Brokeback Mountain up at any possible opportunity. It's what I do, aside from saying "bung" and making mischief. A performance so deranged, so terrifying that my brother Tom dared not watch, Heath Ledger gives a whole new dimension to the character that was so camped up by Jack Nicholson. The ends of his mouth peeling like dry paint and that sad-yet-horrifying clown face filling our screens, the "Why-so-serious" delivery, the "Wanna know how I got these scars?" anecdotes and the knifeplay has meant that his character, as with Ennis del Mar and his plentiful mumblings from BBM, has often involuntarily descented into farce (the sheer multitude of half-arsed lolcats that emerged as a result of The Dark Knight says it all) But you just need to watch the performance to realise that the giggles you're having are from pure nerves. And the nerves are from the shock of witnessing this performance on screen; a whirlwind of horror, menace and infectious evil.

02. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
As Father Flynn, the hoo-ha around Hoffman's character revolves around whether he did or didn't abuse a young black boy at the parish. Oozing charisma is something Phil could do in his sleep, and has been done better quite a few times in the past (Charlie Wilson's War, Almost Famous, Mission Impossible III) But that doesn't mean it's a joy to witness it again. The face-offs between Hoffman and Streep is like watching my friends Ben and Stoy play table tennis; somewhat lol-inducing, a bit of a mess, but nothing short of compelling. But my personal favourites are the scenes he shares with the sweet character of Amy Adams, who trustingly believes in his innocence. When he's around Streep, I found his character dangerous and creepy. When he was around Adams, Father Flynn seemed warm and kind-hearted. That's acting for you.

03. Robert Downey Jr, Tropic Thunder
Depending on how you interpret the five films, Downey Jr is the only one that's not a total turd. As method actor Kirk Lazarus, a man so serious about his craft that he goes through a skin pigmentation process so he can really be black, Downey Jr gives the most (intentionally) hilarious performance of the five nominated, and also one of the funniest performances of the year. It's a quiet onion performance in that it is secretly rather layered- he is playing a man in character in a film. Up against Jack Black, who does his usual fart-humour thing, and Ben Stiller's buck-teethed "Simple Jack" stint, he is the most intellectual of the primadonnas on the set of the "war" movie, and delivers some knockout lines with a very straight face.
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04. Josh Brolin, Milk
As Dan White, Brolin is the wannabe politician that finds himself in under his head and fighting a losing battle when he tries to counter Milk's policies. In the scenes against Penn, Brolin really shines good light onto Harvey Milk, whilst simultaneously evoking displeasure and a small amount of pity from the audience. That said, Milk is a film that contains a lot of strong performances, and I could list a good five that I preferred: Penn, Franco, Hirsch, Pill, and the one off the High School Musical movies.

05. Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
He played a guy with mental problems who told Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio some home truths and shouted a bit. Good, attention-grabbing stuff, but hardly awards-worthy. Especially when his depiction of someone who "wasn't well" made me larf an awful lot, which surely wasn't the point of the performance...

Who will win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Who deserves to win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Who deserved to get nominated: James Franco, Milk/ Haaz Sleiman, The Visitor/ Jack O Connell, Eden Lake