Monthly Archives: January 2010
I’m sure that you know that Dylan posted a blog post on the LAMB on Total Film’s list of the 600 Movie Blogs You Might Have Missed. Foolish Blatherings is mentioned here on page three. Scroll down to see it. A few fellow LAMBs are metioned in this article. Also, some blogs that I frequent like Cinebanter, Film Junk and the Film Expierence were mentioned also. Thank you so very much!
No, this is not a movie version of the PBS series from the early 90s. This is latest movie from embattled director Roman Polanki who did the post-production of this while still in jail.
The story is about a ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) assigned to write the memoirs of a former British prime minister (Pierce Bronsan). When he accepts the job offer, he realizes that he might playing with fire when he hears about mysterious circumstances of a previous ghost writer’s death.
The movie also stars Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams. It will come out some time this year.
I told the boy when you dream about bad things happening, it means you’re still fighting and you’re still alive. It’s when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry.
— The Man
Finally, I saw The Road. It has had a difficult journey to its opening. It was supposed to be released in November of 2008, but The Weinstein Company decide to push it back a year so they could focus on The Reader. It was supposed to come out October 2009 then it was bumped back to Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving came, it was nowhere to be found, because it was in limited release. I had to search to find a theater that was showing it. This movie was lost in the shuffle. I don’t know why.
An unexplained catastrophe has happened to the Earth where plants and animals have been wiped out years before. Days blur into one another as a handful of people are struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where there is limited food, and acts of cannibalism running rampant throughout the land. The Man (Viggo Mortensen) and the Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travel around the desolate landscape to find some semblance of life.
Sometimes the action flashes back to after the catastrophe happen when the Wife (Charlize Theron) urges the family to commit mass suicide like the other families in the area. The Man does not want to do that. She doesn’t share his optimism for humanity running amok outside that could come into their house kill the wife, rape the son and eat them. She decides to leave her family to walk into the wintry night.
The Man and Boy come upon a farmhouse to find a shred of food, but they find a family hanging by nooses. The Man makes an impulse to use their last remaining bullets on their pistols to end their lives. Somehow, this plan is scraped the Man decided to conserve their last two bullets. It might have been a good thing, because when they rest in an abandoned car they hear a gang bus coming in the distance. They hide in the woods for the gang to pass looking for fuel and food.
When one of the gang members (Garret Dillahunt) is taking a piss out in the woods, he discovers the duo cowering down a ridge. The Man asks the Gang Member to leave them alone to go on their way. The Gang Member tests the Man. He shoots the Gang Member in the head when the man threatens the Boy with a knife. They escape deep into the words when the gang scours the woods to the people that killed their fellow member.
The duo are continuing to head South for the shoreline for some signs a civilized life to counteracts the savagery they see everyday fighting hunger, going to days without taking a bath. When they do get a bright light in the form of a mansion of the road, they are able to have the basic necessaries like food, hot water, clean clothes or toothpaste.
Their joy is short lived when the Man hears a strange noise in the house, thinking that it is another looter is coming to kill them. They decide to leave, but happen upon a legally blind man, Ely (Robert Duvall). The Boy wants to help the Blind Man, but the Man is hesitant to give him their last remaining food to him. The men talk about the how the world collapses as foretold by the Blind Man and humanity is lost. The blind man leaves.
The father and son decide to keep going south. They have to get to the coast before they starve, are captured by refugees or worse.
Some movies work better in books, because the subject is too much for the typical moviegoers. Damn, this movie is depressing. It is bleak and dark. No hope. Nothing. I wish for those flashbacks more often. If the apocalypse happened tomorrow, I want to be the ones mercifully killed. If I had to endure the endless sorrow, I couldn’t take it.
The world is gray, dirty, bleak, and vile. The only color you will see in this film is fire, flares and patches of spilled blood. The movie constantly punishes the viewer with it’s stark imagery, the terrain blackened by fires, the trash, the abandoned cars, etc.
Judgment: This movie shows you that the bond between father and son will be tested.
Nothing is permanent, not even death.
Terry Gilliam’s latest effort, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus received unwanted before it completed production when the main actor, Heath Ledger, tragically died during filming. Gilliam’s ingenuity brought Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law on board to finish the movie. With spectacular visuals inside the imaginarium, this must be the most coherent movie in Gilliam’s filmography.
On a typical night in London, a traveling theater troupe called “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” sets up shop on a random street. Anton (Andrew Garfield) dressed as Mercury introduces the thousand-year-old Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) to a bunch of drunkards stumbling out of a nightclub nearby. One of them rushes the stage and assaults the performers. He tries to make a move on the girl, Valentina (Lily Cole), who is Parnassus’ fifteen-year-old daughter. He steps inside the stage mirror to go to another world. He explores the world is killed inside.
After the latest incident, the performers want to leave, including Parnassus’s longtime sidekick, Percy (Verne Troyer) as a strange man appears, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits). He is the personification of the Devil. He visits Dr. Parnassus to remind of deal that they made centuries before in order for him to gain immorality. When his daughter turns sixteen, her soul will come into the possession of Mr. Nick. Valentina is unaware of this deal until it is almost too late.
When Parnassus tries to retell the story of the pact, he is interrupted when the caravan stops on the bridge, because Anton believed that he saw a dancing shadow. Valentina surmises that it’s a man hanging under them. They realized that it is a man (Ledger) hanging off the bridge with a small golden flute in his throat. When Valentina saves his life, the man doesn’t remember his name, but he has symbols on his forehead. Parnassus thinks that Mr. Nick sent Tony to collect his prize.
The troupe takes in the strange man. Valentina decided to call the new man, “George”. She is drawn to him even though Anton is clearly head-over-heels in love with her. George’s charms as a barker bring in people to view the show.
Mr. Nick visits Parnassus to make another bet that whoever gets five souls in the magical stage mirror in two days with keep Valentina. George’s ruse unravels when picking up a paper, George realizes that he is a missing head of Children’s charity named Tony Shepard.
One night everything goes wrong after Anton overhears the bet between Parnassus and Mr. Nick. He tries to stop the bet, but Tony interferes with it. After the successful fiasco, Anton tells Tony the mystery of the mirror. The next day, Tony suggests to change the show to appeal to a modern audience. They do. A woman goes into the mirror and Tony wants to know what’s inside the mirror so he steps in to the magical world beyond where is transformed into a different person entirely.
I admire Terry Gilliam. Every one of his productions are plagued with problems with flash floods, the studio financing falling through or their main actor dies in the middle of shoot, he finds a way to make it work. Shit storms are falling on him and he continues to dig through it.
Gilliam is not known for his subtle movies. They are more abstract, at best. I had huge problem with the ending of the movie. I thought that a man putting the moves on sixteen-year-old was so wrong. I don’t care if it was in the imaginarium. I did not understand Tony’s motive at the end of the movie. I suppose he wanted to stay in the imaginarium, the perfect world that he created by his attitude changed a good 180 in five seconds.
Judgment: I think this is the best last movie an actor could ever want.
— Baayork Lee
Every Little Step is on the shortlist of possible Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Film. This movie was in limited release in April of last year. Where the hell was it playing my area? This movie came out on DVD in October. It chronicles the journey from the potential cast and crew prepping for the Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line” in 2006. Being a former dancer/actor myself, I completely understood the journey of dancers in this movie.
The movie shows the audition process, where the auditioned tells their tales about auditioning. Talk about their experiences of being struggling dancers trying to get their big break.
There is a massive cattle call open auditions for available talent in New York City. People come from around the world to audition for the musical. Three thousand people show up. The producers see equity professional actors, then the amateur raw talent performers. Who is the right person for the two dozen speaking roles? The original Connie, Baayork Lee is the choreographer of the revival. She wanted to remain true to original director/choreographer, Michael Bennett’s original vision of the show. She takes the dancers through the backbreaking choreography that you have to learn in thirty minutes.
There are talking head interviews with Donna McKenchnie who played the original Cassie, Bob Avian, the new director of the show, was the co-choreographer at the original production, and John Breglio, the producer, who talk about the genius of Bennett.
The genesis of the original Broadway production in the early 1970s where taped a twenty-four hour session with the twenty-two dancers for this show that wasn’t written yet. It intercuts to the revival as it parallels the lives of the dancers auditioning to be dancers auditioning in the show. Michael Bennett took the dancer’s stories where turned into the actual dialogue and numbers in the show with the help of three-time Oscar winner Marvin Hamlisch.
As the original performers reflect on Bennett, the movie intercuts to the audition process where thousands are culled down to hundreds for the callbacks. It was a sixteen-month process from the first casting call to being on the main stage.
Little background info on me—I was in my high school production of A Chorus Line a decade ago, I was psyched that I was a part of it when I was devastated that I had to leave the show because I was failing English. Damn! I still remember the choreography. Hell, I still have my dancer’s outfit, which I can still fit by the way. I even had the god-awful movie adaptation on videocassette.
I understood how they performers are going through. It’s the duality of wanting to get the job, but not be invest so much you will be hurt when you are not cast. You will hear a hundred no’s before you hear that one yes. I am so glad that I am not in that world anymore. It was nice to revisit that time again.
Judgment: This movie is for the performing arts geeks only.
Sam Mendes has made some exceptional films in his ten-year career. I thought that after the release of Revolutionary Road, he would wait three years to have another film come out. He surprised me when he deviated from the heavy dramas to do the comedy, Away We Go. I was looking forward to this movie last summer, but I was heavy into my Classic Movie Month that I missed this movie. I’m glad I did, but it not up to par with some of his other films.
A young unmarried couple in their early thirties, Burt and Verona (John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph) are living in a dilapidated mobile home near Burt’s parents, Gloria and Jerry Farlander (Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels) when they realized that they are expecting their first baby. They are living nearby so that their child could be near their grandparents. The problem is that parents drop an atomic bomb on them by saying that they are living the country to go to Belgium for two years.
Burt and Verona decide to go on a cross-country trip to fins a suitable place to raise child. Their first stop is Phoenix where the two meet’s Verona’s former co-worker, Lily (Alison Janney) at a local dog track, who tries to be hip with her out dated lingo and brash comments about her deflated boobs and her “dykey” daughter. They an awkward conversation with Lily’s husband, Lowell (Jim Gaffigan) about some random subject that you don’t give two shits about.
On to the next city, the couple visit Verona’s younger sister in Tucson, Grace (Carmen Ejogo) where Verona confides to her that she is scared about commitment and raising their child because their parents died a decade earlier and that Verona doesn’t want to talk about it.
After the brief visit, they have to take a train to see Burt’s hippie “cousin” Ln Fisher-Herrin (Maggie Gylleenhaal) in Madison. She is a free spirit that shares a communal bed with her husband, Roderick (Josh Hamilton) and their two kids, Wolfie and Neptune (Bailey Harkins, Brendan and Jaden Spitz). Over dinner, they clash about their differing philosophies about parenting styles. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Final stop on their weird jounrye is to Montreal where they meet Verona’s old college roommates, Tom and Munch Garrett (Chris Messina, Melanie Lynskey) who are Brangelina-like without the fame and fortune. They have mini-United nations that are mourning the loss of another baby by miscarriage. (Damn, that was depressing to write.) They think that want to move to Montreal, but they might have second thoughts when a family emergency happens.
The movie is uncomfortable to watch. It’s brutal good, it’s brutal weird. There is some semblance of brilliance, particularly with Rudolph’s character as she is tortured by trying to reconcile with her parent while not having control of her family’s future.
I didn’t like Krasinski’s character of Burt. He is a big clueless doofus that you wonder how he could be fully functioning person that doesn’t know the difference between cobbling and carving to be a good father to the baby. Next, most of the people that they meet on their journey are unmemorable. They are just weird, fucked up people that should examined by a professional.
I think that Mendes tried too hard to make this movie look indie. He had the tropes of a typical indie with the character staring blankly at the camera where the rest of the world passing by them, the awkward exchanges in a car, the dramatic monologue at the ends where a character has an epiphany and has to pontificate about it or have overtly-eccentric characters that are caricatures.
I didn’t hate the movie. I’m glad I watched it but it need to trim the fat a bit. Flesh out some of the characters.
Judgment: I don’t if I can recommended this movie. Maybe for Sam Mendes’ fans. I guess.
Wes Anderson’s foray into animation culminated with the Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the classic book by Roald Dahl. I was hesitant watching this movie from the trailer for it. I was iffy on the animation. This movie came out around Thanksgiving. By Christmas, it was out of theaters. I found the movie at the cheap theater right near me.
Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is a seasoned thief when it comes to swiping squabs, but in one particular caper, his wife (Meryl Streep) accompanies him to steal chickens for dinner. They are snared in a fox trap and Mrs. Fox announces that she’s pregnant. She wants him to promise if they make it out alive that he would have another profession.
Two years later, he does get out of the profession. He settles down, has a safe job as a columnist He tries to provide a normal life for his oddball son, Ash (Jason Schwartzman). Mr. Fox feels poor that he is living in a hole. He wants to live above ground in the fresh air. Fox’s real estate attorney, Badger (Bill Murray) advices Mr. Fox not to move the family to the new tree, because they cannot afford the tree on his salary.
Ignoring Badger’s advice Mr. Fox moves the family to the glorious tree that overlooks a trio of compounds out in the distance. A family cousin, Kristofferson (Eric Anderson) visits the family after his father has fallen ill with double pneumonia. The lanky fox that does yoga and has a certain lilt to his voice threaten Ash.
When Kristofferson settles in, Mr. Fox is getting that itch to pull off one last job. He enlists the help of his possum super, Kiley (Wally Wolodarsky) to be his associate as they try to implement “Mr. Fox’s Master Plan”.
His three phase plans goes as follows: Phase one: infiltrate Boggis’ (Robin Hurlstone) Chicken House, drug the beagles guarding the property with blueberries laced with sleeping powder, make out with the chicken bounty. Phase two: Bunce’s (Hugo Guinness) Refrigerated Smokehouse, repeat process of phase one.
After their heist, the Fox’s pantry is filled with meat. Mrs. Fox is becoming more suspicious about her husband’s nightly duties. When phrase three in put in place: gaining access to Bean’s Secret Cider Cellar. Kristofferson come along to act as that small Asian guy in Ocean’s Eleven. (The parallels between those movies were not lost on me). There is snag in Fox’s Master Plan when the trio meet a Rat (Willem Dafoe) that has watched West Side Story one too many times, guarding the of bottles. They get into a fight and are almost caught be Bean (Michael Gambon) himself getting into his infinite stash of alcoholic cider.
As the trio outsmarted Rat and get away, the three owners have an emergency meeting about Mr. Fox robbing their stocks. They want to kill him. When they fail to do so, they decided to dig them out. Fearing for their lives, the animals decided to dig deeper into the ground. The farmers want to kill the Fox by any means necessary. This threatens the other inhabitants of the land to band together for one common goal to stop the farmers before they destroy all of their homes.
In my opinion, the crude 70s stop motion capture threw me off a little bit. These lanky stick figure miniatures were distracting. The beginning of the movie got off to a rocky start where the characters were overtly quirky to be quirky. When the whole community bands together, that is when the movie was getting real good and I forgot everything about the weird brisk walking, pooling tears in the eyes for a moment. I had a good time with this movie.
Judgment: This movie might not work for kids, but is perfect for adults.
The follow rant will contain some coarse language that is directed to anybody associated with televised award seasons and the voting academy in general. Don’t let the kiddies read any further.
I’m having an epiphany. With the current award season in full swing, I am having a heated discussion on my Oscar Watchers groups after the SAG awards. The awards almost repeated the Golden Globes a couple of days before.
I realize the awards show are becoming more irrelevant every year when sub par movies or performances are being rewarded for going outside the box or being more than average. I maybe rambling incoherently in this rant, but bear with me.
During awards show season, the same actors or movies are always hogging the prize for more deserving ones. Personally, I am happy to see Mo’Nique speak eloquently about being recognized for her efforts or Christoph Waltz being thrilled for being exposed a completely new audience of fans.
I have a problem when actors get the “Career prize”. It doesn’t matter what it is. In case of Jeff Bridges, he is basically playing the same role that Mickey Rourke did last year in “The Wrestler”. Rourke didn’t get that much love, but Jeff is because Jeff has been nominated for four Oscars and everybody wants him to win. Is he deserving of the Oscar? Maybe. But like with Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman”, Morgan Freeman in “Million Dollar Baby”, Sean Penn in “Mystic River” or Martin Scorsese for “The Departed”, they rewarded prizes for the Academy’s screw-ups. I don’t like that.
People have been arguing about the “politicking” and the “campaigning” of certain people or movies. I think the performance should stand alone, not what the studios or the stars want. They should be rewarded for their effort, not how much the studios are paying for trade ads, etc.
The awards have been fawning over Sandra Bullock for “The Blind Side” which I’m not surprised. This is basically what I like to call “The Erin Brockovich Effect”. Just because you put on a blond wig, have crazy accent and tight outfits doesn’t mean that you should get the big prize. I have no qualms against Bullock. I like her, but I don’t think that her performance is Oscar-worthy in my eyes. Others beg to differ.
There was this notion of Bullock being a work horse for so many that she should get some recognition for her body of work. No. I don’t see it that way. She should be rewarded for giving a great performance better Streep’s Julie Child, Mulligan’s innocent schoolgirl, Sidibe’s abused teen mother or Mirren’s neglectful wife. A person’s age, genre of movie, subject matter should immediatel eliminate them for getting an award. If that is the case, don’t nominate them at all.
There is also something about how the blockbusters would haul in all the awards like “Avatar” for Best Picture (Drama) and The Hangover (Comedy) at the Golden Globes. I don’t buy that. A film winning should be determined by money totals. It should be recognized for pure merit. If box office in the only drive forces, then “Avatar” should win along with “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, “The Hangover”, “Twilight Saga: New Moon”, “The Proposal”, etc.
There is also the notion of the people voting for what’s best ala Mtv, Peoples or Teen Choice awards. Giving awards to some shitty movie like “Twilight”, “High School Musical” or “The Ugly Truth” should give pause that awards shows are a fucking joke. Allowing tweens to vote would kill everything.
I don’t know if the rant made any sense, but I need to get out of my system. I think I am frustrated that good movies are being overlooked for middle-of-road fare. I am becoming disillusioned with these events more and more that I can’t get excited anymore. I guess, I have resigned the fact that awards are pointless, boring, and a waste of time when the same people and movies are winning repeatedly. There is not that surprise factor in years past.
I have said my peace. I hope.