Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mini Oscar Reviews Part I

So I haven't put up any reviews recently due to this being the holiday season and not being focused enough to get stuff done. So what I have decided to do instead is put up mini reviews of Oscar hopeful movies that I have seen. I will probably continue to do this until I have seen a majority of the films, and then I will begin to voice my opinion on what deserves which awards. So - here it is, the beginning of my Oscar reviews. This part will include Synecdoche New York, Australia, Slumdog Millionare, and The Curious Case of Benjammin Button.

Synecdoche New York

Overall, the film was pretty good. It was a really complicated film that kind of hurt my brain by the time I left the theater because I was trying to make connections and understand things all while taking in the visuals and plotlines. Philip Seymore Hoffman once again offers up a great experience, (I really think he is one of the better actors out there), and it is a pleasure watching him on the screen. Some of the other actors/actresses, I'm not totally convinced of. Knowing a bit about Charlie Kaufman, my mind just kept telling me how much this film felt like a self referential movie that was just explaining what it is like to be in his mind. This is good and bad. Bad, because it is almost too depressing and down-hearted to be in his mind, and good because deep down inside, the man is a genius. The film is very surreal and hearkens back to a time when directors were being more experimental with their storytelling and visuals (ie. Fellini or Bunuel). And the visuals, I believe, are the most stunning part of the film. I, for the most part, was actually convinced that this giant warehouse with all of these "actors" and buildings and locations, even though in reality it is physically impossible. Some of the effect shots were a bit wonky, and I'm not sure if it was unintentional, or intentional to help the surreal experience along a bit. The film also at times felt a bit like 2 separate films. The beginning, a dark comedy, much more similar to parts of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. However as the film progresses, it gets more depressing and mind-blowing (I think a bit more like Being John Malkovich). The film also felt a bit too long and I could see some scenes that I could have imagined not being there at all. Overall, another good film from Kaufman, but I think he really benefits from having someone like Gondry or Spike Jonze help him out along the way.


I must say right off the bat that I was a bit disappointed with Australia. I may have went into this film with a bit to much high hopes, but in the end, I think the film suffered a bit from an epic vision not quite delivered. The posters were great, the trailers were awesome, and I absolutely fell in love with the idea that someone was tackling the old school Hollywood style with new school fervor...but those dreams were slightly crushed when the film fell apart early on. Don't get me wrong, the film was still cinematically beautiful and surely had it's share of awesomely epic moments, as well as some great performances by Hugh Jackman and the new and young Brandon Walters who played the aboriginal boy, but some of the story killed that magic. SMALL SPOILER ALERT AHEAD: The film opens around a story of a ranch, Faraway Downs, that is almost done for and a cattle drive that desperately needs to take place to keep the business alive. Unfortunately, once that cattle drive is finished, the film looses it's epic scale sense and becomes a bit too much of a love story combined with Pearl Harbor - not a good combination. I felt like the first 45 min. to an hour was going great. I was gripping my seat, becoming interested in the characters, and admiring the landscape - then, as the film got longer and lost some of the more action packed moments, I felt the dialogue drawing on and the visuals becoming less impactful. Not all bad news though, as I said before, still gorgeous film and surely has it's shot at cinematography when it comes Oscar time.

Slumdog Millionaire

Easily on the top of my list SO FAR this Oscar season out of what I have seen. Not only does Danny Boyle deliver another stunning film (I've been a fan of quite a few of his films Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, The Beach - so I'm all eyes and ears here), but he delivered this film with a cast of unknown new actors - who for the most part blew me away. The soundtrack was great, the colors were in keeping with Boyle's style, and the story won me over. I think what I liked most about this film was that despite how shitty this young boy's life was he came out on top and you definitely get the feeling that he deserved it. It was an overall, almost too happy, ending - and that is what made it great. I had a few issues with parts of the story - specifically with a few things that happen in the last 20 mins or so, but overall this film does best exactly what it set out to be - an escapist fantasy - something Boyle knows quite a bit about and delivers in excellent doses with this film.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Adapted from a 1921 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this film about a man who ages in reverse is more a technical masterpiece than a perfect story, but the technical aspects of the film make it well worth it - even to the point of being able to ignore certain plot disasters. What impressed me most about Benjamin Button was certainly the CGI special effects that created the reverse aging Brad Pitt. While I have heard some complaints about the film being a bit too long, I can honestly say that at no point during this movie did I lose interest. I was captivated the whole time. You might be asking, if it wasn't boring, and you loved the effects, what was the problem? The problem was a myriad of tiny plot holes that made the second half seem less than perfect along with the fact that I could barely get past the fact that the movie seemed like Forest Gump Part II: With A Bigger Budget. I understand if these are the stories you like to write Eric Roth, but seriously?? Even down to some very tiny details that were almost EXACTLY the same between the two movies. I don't see much of the fault being on part of director David Fincher, who once again crafted a slick, technically perfect, and very smooth film, but more on part of the story writers. The movie was sadly beautiful, and highly emotional, but lacked enough conflict to put the film over the breaking point of being perfect. So if for nothing else, see this film for it's technical achievements which I am CERTAIN will come into play when the Oscars come around.



I recently saw The Wackness, a film I have been interested in since I first saw the trailers and learned that Josh Peck, a great actor who delivered a phenomenal performance in 2004's Mean Creek was taking the lead - and looked amazing compared to how he looked in Mean Creek. Winning the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, I still feel that this film may have some sort of a shot at something, what? I'm not sure, but the performances were pretty good and the story was pretty much awesome with exception of a few moments that left me rolling my eyes just a bit. Don't get your hopes up on this film being nominated for anything huge, but if you love early 1990's hip hop, you'll wan't to see this film anyway...plus it is quite hilarious to see a knighted Oscar winner (Sir Ben Kingsley) toke a bong and puff a joint.

So these are the Oscar films and hopefuls that I have seen so far. Keep your eyes peeled for reviews of other films as I see them. Other films I am going to see in anticipation of the Oscars: Frost/Nixon, Milk, Revolutionary Road, Gran Torino, Rachel Getting Married, The Wrestler, Doubt, Vicki Christina Barcelona and anything else that might cross my path
Posted by SX0T at 12:11 PM | 0 comments  
Friday, December 26, 2008


As many of you know, there has been a legal battle between Fox and Warner Bros. concerning the rights to who owns The Watchmen. Well, today, a judge ruled in favor of Fox...a huge surprise, at least to me. Here is some more info courtesy of The Movie Blog:

A U.S. federal judge has ruled that 20th Century Fox owns a copyright interest in Watchmen, which may jeopardize Warner Bros.’s plan to release the superhero movie in March.

Judge Gary Allen Feess issued the surprise ruling on Wednesday, Variety reported.

“Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture,” the ruling said.

Judge Feess advised both Fox and Warner to consider either a settlement or an appeal.

Fox acquired rights to the Watchmen graphic adventure novel in the late 1980s for producer Lawrence Gordon. After spending more than $1 million US developing the project, it eventually dropped its plan to make a movie based on the work written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.

Gordon later carried out the project with Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. The movie, about the underside of life for superbeings, was directed by Zack Snyder and stars Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley. Its release is scheduled for March 6, 2009.

In February, Fox filed a suit to prevent Watchmen from being released. It argued that Gordon’s option to acquire Fox’s remaining interest in Watchmen was never exercised.

Warner spokesman Scott Rowe has declined to comment on the ruling.

The Wall Street Journal says the ruling in favour of Fox comes as a surprise, “given that the studio appeared to have dropped the project more than a decade ago and was not involved in producing the film.”

This is absolutely HUGE news, and even if a deal is worked out, this film will almost certainly be delayed even more than it has been which will be devastating to fans of the novel and fans who just really want to see this film. I just hope that in the long run it doesn't hurt what seems to be a huge landmark event for comic films. Stay tuned, as I'm sure Derek will be voicing his opinion on this matter shortly.
Posted by SX0T at 10:57 PM | 0 comments  
Friday, December 5, 2008

A Quick Look at the Terminator Salvation Trailer

Take a quick look at the Terminator Salvation trailer.

I know I'm excited! The only thing that can keep this from being perfect is the fact that McG is directing it. I'm not saying he cant make it perfect, its just that his resume is a little lame. But everyone has to get their foot in some real gritty action somehow, and this looks like the perfect opportunity. I'm sure he honed in some skills for directing action while making the Charlie's Angels movies. Here's to hoping he puts those skills to good use. Plus there is a Transformer in the clip!
Posted by Derek Clem at 12:44 PM | 0 comments  
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